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

UFC 193 Primer: The 'Rowdy' Grappling of Ronda Rousey

  • 18 days ago

For her 12 professional fights, UFC champion Ronda Rousey has needed just 25 minutes and 36 seconds in the cage to finish them. Rowdy has made a name for herself as a fast finisher; it's her calling read news >>

UFC Fight Night 77 results: Vitor Belfort stops Dan Henderson after another head kick

  • 22 days ago

SAO PAULO – For almost two minutes, Vitor Belfort and Dan Henderson approached each other with the same uncertainty that many MMA observers had about their third matchup, nine years after they first read news >>

Sao Paulo's Andrade wins in UFC FIGHT PASS prelim main event

  • 23 days ago

Viscardi Andrade, Jimmie Rivera and Matheus Nicolau earned victories to open up Fight Night Sao Paulo on the UFC FIGHT PASS prelims. read news >>

Watch UFC Fight Night 77's post-fight press conference on MMAjunkie

  • 23 days ago

SAO PAULO – UFC Fight Night 77 takes place today. As usual, you can watch a live video stream of the post-fight news conference here on MMAjunkie at approximately 1:30 a.m. ET (10:30 p.m. PT).Filed u read news >>

Bellator 145 Results: Daniel Straus Takes Featherweight Title from Patricio Freire

  • 23 days ago

Daniel Straus went to war with Patricio Freire for 25 minutes before grabbing a unanimous decision to earn belt at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Friday night. read news >>

Former UFC middleweight contender Alan Belcher announces retirement

  • 24 days ago

Out of action for the past two-and-a-half years, Alan Belcher today made it official: He’s officially retired.Filed under: News, UFC read news >>

Bellator 145 live video stream and official results (6:45 p.m. ET)

  • 24 days ago

ST. LOUIS – Bellator 145 takes place today, and you can join us for a live video stream and official results beginning at 6:45 p.m. ET (3:45 p.m. PT).Filed under: Bellator, News, Videos read news >>

Watch today's UFC Fight Night 77 weigh-ins live on MMAjunkie at 4 p.m. ET

  • 24 days ago

SAO PAULO – UFC Fight Night 77 fighter weigh-ins take place today, and you can catch a live stream of the proceedings here on MMAjunkie at 4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT).Filed under: News, UFC, Videos read news >>

Fight Path: RFA 32 twins Melvin, Marvin Blumer have been scrapping since birth

  • 25 days ago

Melvin Blumer is 2 minutes older than his identical twin brother, fellow RFA 32 fighter Marvin Blumer. And they know a little something about fighting, struggling and overcoming.Filed under: AXS TV F read news >>

Video: Today's perfectly pleasant UFC Fight Night 77 face-offs in Sao Paulo

  • 25 days ago

SAO PAULO – All 12 main-card fighters from UFC Fight Night 77 met today for the traditional pre-event face-offs, which proved a perfectly pleasant affair.Filed under: Featured Videos, News, UFC, Vide read news >>