For UFC President Dana White, a split decision in favor of ex-lightweight champ Benson Henderson in UFC on FOX 10's headliner wasn’t cause for outrage.
Still, White wasn’t particularly happy with the performance of Henderson or his opponent, ex-Strikeforce champ Josh Thomson, after scores of 48-47, 47-48, and 49-46 for “Smooth.”
“If you had Henderson winning the fight, it wasn’t by that wide of a margin,” he told Las Vegas’ KVVU FOX 5 Las Vegas. “The fight was a lot closer. I don’t think either guy really went after it and tried to pull out the win.
“As far as Ben Henderson fights go, this is the typical Ben Henderson fight. This is the way his fights go. He’s a grinder, and he grinds out decisions.”
UFC on FOX 10 took place Saturday at Chicago’s United Center. The event’s main card aired live on FOX following prelims on FOX Sports 1 and UFC Fight Pass.
White was a little more upset when it came to the 49-46 score in favor of Henderson (20-3 MMA, 8-1 UFC), who was ahead on striking stats after five rounds but was often controlled on the mat by Thomson (20-6 MMA, 3-2 UFC). (MMAjunkie was one of the only media outlets to score the fight for Henderson by the same score.)
“That’s insane,” White said of the score. “This is always a problem. My thing is, you guys both know you’re fighting for the chance to get a shot at the title, OK? you’re getting a shot at the title. You go. Go, go, go.
“Go for broke. Don’t ever leave it in the judges’ hands, or at least put on enough of a performance to know you won because you can never trust the judges.”
Henderson, who’s no stranger to close decisions, now halts the rise of a potential title contender to champ Anthony Pettis, who took his belt this past August after doing the same under the now-defunct WEC banner in 2010. Thomson was set to fight Pettis for the title at UFC on FOX 9 before Pettis injured his knee and withdrew from the event.
Thomson, who this past April returned to the UFC with a highlight-reel knockout of Nate Diaz, chose to take a bout with Henderson in the interim rather than wait for Pettis to heal. But according to White, Henderson didn’t necessarily steal Thomson’s position as No. 1 contender.
“Ben Henderson lost twice to Pettis, the champion, and he got destroyed last fight,” White said. “He didn’t do anything that’s going to have anybody screaming, ‘Oh, I want to see him get another shot at Pettis.’”
That leaves the lightweight division in limbo, as another potential contender, T.J. Grant, remains on injury leave due to the lingering effects of a concussion suffered in training for the bout Thomson took at UFC on FOX 9.
At the post-event press conference, Henderson, who won the belt via controversial decision at UFC 144 and defended it three times before his second Pettis defeat, said he was happy to earn any win, controversial or not.
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