Ben Henderson squeaked by Josh Thomson in the Windy City on Saturday, earning a split decision win at UFC on Fox 10.
The 1st round saw Henderson taken down by Thompson rather quickly after Henderson over-committed to a hard strike. He swiftly took Henderson’s back and spent most of the round trying to get a rear-naked choke from the body triangle position. Henderson managed to evade the submission and went for a standing arm triangle choke, putting Thompson in trouble in the same round.
In the 2nd round, Henderson controlled the clinch early, but was once again taken down by Thompson. Thomson managed to secure Henderson’s back again. But again, Henderson stood up and escaped. The rest of the round was striking exchanges from both men. Both landed solid shots with Thompson consistently changing stances.
Henderson come out aggressively in the 3rd round. He took Thomson down and wore on him early. Thomson reversed position and, despite announcing to his corner that he had a broken hand, continued to fight.
The 4th round began with some striking, then Thomson shooting in for a quick take down. It took Henderson off guard. Henderson’s guard work isolated Thomson’s offense.
The grappling work between the two was phenomenal with unique sweeps and Henderson performing a running take down (a la Illinois’ own Matt Hughes) afterwards.
Despite all of that action, the round ended with Thomson taking Henderson’s back again. Henderson played to the crowd as he walked toward them fixing his hair. Thomson got the crowd going, while Henderson walked with him piggybacked around the cage.
In the final round, the two finally touched gloves with respect for one another. Action began with small striking exchanges. Henderson was aggressive and diverse in his attack. His defense was also excellent, checking Thomson’s leg kicks and being patient with his attack choices.
Thomson gained another take down off a kick counter, but was not able to nab a submission or knockout and the bout went the distance. In the end, it was close, but two of three judges saw the bout for Henderson.
Moving forward from this win, Henderson may see another shot at the belt he lost to Anthony Pettis.
As for Thomson, some wonder whether or not he may stay in the game. He left clearly disappointed in the loss and teased retirement in the post fight interview.