Benson Henderson is a great fighter. He is also a great athlete. He is not deserving of another title shot against Anthony Pettis. It is not to say Henderson “lost” the fight against Josh Thomson, he just wasn’t impressive in victory. He didn’t look like a man hungry for a title shot, as Thomson did.
Henderson is always going to be at the top of the lightweight division, but he needed to show something extra in his “title-eliminator” with Thomson. He didn’t. He looked very similar to the fighter who stepped into the ring with Nate Diaz. He may have looked a little worse than the Bendo who went five rounds with Gilbert Melendez.
The judges did score the fight correctly in favor of Henderson, but he should not be the next person to fight Pettis. The UFC knows that and he should know that as well. It would be easy to link Bendo to a fight with Melendez, but it’s not certain that is the right move either. Melendez should fight T.J. Grant in a title-eliminator before Henderson gets that shot.
The right person to step into the octagon with Henderson should be the man nobody wants to fight, Khabib Nurmagomedov. Nurmagomedov is looking like Glover Teixeira did a couple of years ago, as in nobody wants to fight him. It’s hard to believe that Henderson would turn down the fight. The winner could put something nice on his resume.
Would the fight technically (considering the UFC rankings) be a drop in competition for Henderson? Maybe, but a convincing win against a man who is 5-0 in the UFC and undefeated in his MMA career could get him another title shot.
For Nurmagomedov, a victory over Henderson would finally give him the respect and attention he deserves.