USA TODAY: Narrow wins define UFC lightweight champ Benson Henderson


benson-henderson-36.jpg(This story appeared in today’s print edition of USA TODAY.)

Ten minutes into Saturday’s five-round main event, UFC President Dana White already knew what was coming.

That is to say, he had no idea how it would end up, but he knew one way or another someone would go to bed feeling cheated.

“Literally, going into the third round, I said, ‘This fight’s going to be controversial,’” White said of the lightweight title bout between champion Benson Henderson (19-2 MMA, 7-0 UFC) and challenger Gilbert Melendez (21-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) at UFC on FOX 7 at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. “I gave the second round to Ben – I had it 1-1. I’m like, ‘Here we go again.’”?

Sure enough, there we went. For 25 minutes, Henderson and Melendez struggled back and forth in a fight so close the judges might as well have flipped a coin to determine the winner. In the end, Henderson retained his title by the slimmest of margins, winning his second split decision in three outings as the UFC’s 155-pound champion and leaving fans to wonder whether this is just part of the bargain when they sit down to watch the Arizona-based lightweight work.

As White said when shrugging off the immediate debate over the wide-ranging tallies on the judges’ scorecards, “It’s a Ben Henderson fight.”

It didn’t sound like a compliment.

Of the champions who manage to hang on to their titles long enough to do more than enjoy a cup of coffee with the belt, there seem to be two distinct varieties: the champions who beat their opponents, and the champions who beat them up.

Henderson is among the former. He squeaks by challengers. With a slightly less favorable outlook from the judges, he easily could have lost three of his past four, just as he could have easily dropped his title to Melendez if one judge had scored one round differently.

Then it would be his turn to bite down on his fist at the postfight news conference, as Melendez did, before shaking his head and saying, “I’m just heartbroken.”

That’s different from what we’re used to hearing from those who have tried and failed to take titles away from dominant UFC champions such as Anderson Silva or Jon Jones, who have a way of breaking their opponents’ faces along with their hearts.

Jones, the light heavyweight champion who Saturday takes on former middleweight contender Chael Sonnen at UFC 159 (10 p.m. ET, pay- per-view), is a perfect example of a champion with a knack for erasing all doubt by the time the last blow has landed.

He and Henderson both wear gold belts emblazoned with the same company logo, but there’s a clear difference between them.

One clings to his title by gradually persuading judges to lean his way.

The other makes the outcome so clear they can’t possibly miss it.

For complete coverage of UFC on FOX 7, stay tuned to the UFC Events section of the site.

(Pictured: Benson Henderson)

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

  • 19 days ago
  • 3 views

UFC President Dana White thinks highly of his promotion's lightweight champion, Anthony Pettis. During a recent appearance on "The Jim Rome Show," White laid down his famous superlative for whatever read news >>

  • 15 days ago
  • 1 views

Dana White claimed before UFC 181 that Anthony Pettis was among the best pound-for-pound fighters in the sport. While that’s a frequent strategy for the UFC boss, it turns out he was right.Filed unde read news >>

  • 12 days ago
  • 99 views

UFC president Dana White talks about the lightweight title picture following The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale on Friday, and he's not happy with Nate Diaz. read news >>

  • 22 days ago
  • 28 views

NEW YORK -- UFC president Dana White talks about the new UFC deal with Reebok, what it means for the fighters, why they did it now, as well as the new UFC headquarters in Las Vegas. read news >>

  • 22 days ago
  • 3 views

UFC CEO Lorenzo Fertitta and president Dana White explained the ins and outs of the company's landmark deal with Reebok. read news >>

  • 22 days ago
  • 5 views

UFC President Dana White discuses the promotion’s new deal with Reebok and reveal that the new ZUFFA headquarters will have a rehab center for fighters. read news >>

  • 22 days ago
  • 32 views

UFC president Dana White talks about the new UFC deal with Reebok, what it means for the fighters, why they did it now, as well as the new UFC headquarters in Las Vegas. read news >>

  • 22 days ago
  • 6 views

Unless you've been living under a rock, you heard the recent blockbuster news (video) that Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) inked a landmark apparel outfitting deal with Reebok that will see the read news >>

  • 21 days ago
  • 12 views

Dana White briefly spoke to TMZ about the interest in getting former WWE champion CM Punk into the UFC. Dana White was in New York City for the special UFC-Reebok partnership, and TMZ was in the area read news >>

Jump to: