Former UFC lightweight kingpin Benson Henderson looks to continue to build his case for a future title shot when he battles Rafael dos Anjos in the main event of Fight Night 49. Henderson has been extra motivated since losing his belt to Anthony Pettis at UFC 164. He’s posted victories this year over Josh Thomson and Rustam Khabilov and will be looking to make it three straight victories in Tulsa, Okla. against the No. 5 ranked dos Anjos.
Henderson has displayed more of an edge and more emotion during his quest to work his way back to the top. He’s clearly been stung by the criticism from fans, media and even UFC boss Dana White for being a non-finisher. Henderson vented those frustrations at Fight Night 42 in New Mexico after submitting Khabilov in the fourth round of their headlining bout. It was his first Octagon finish and earned him a Performance of the Night bonus.
“Smooth” has been actively gunning for another crack at Pettis, who has already defeated him twice. “Showtime” also recorded a decision victory over Henderson in a thrilling WEC lightweight title fight back in 2010. Pettis will finally defend his belt for the first time at UFC 181 against Gilbert Melendez. Henderson currently holds down the No. 1 ranking in the organization and owns a decision victory over “El Nino”. He’ll be looking for his 10th victory in 11 UFC appearances as he looks to take out yet another title hopeful.
Dos Anjos won’t be an easy assignment for the former champ. The Brazilian was also victorious in Albuquerque as he stopped Jason High in the second round. It was a strong rebound effort for “RDA” after his winning ways were snapped by undefeated contender Khabib Nurmagomedov at UFC on FOX 11. He’s won six of his last seven fights and owns an impressive decision win over the red-hot Donald Cerrone. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt has strong submission skills and has vastly improved his striking game in the last couple of years.
This should be an entertaining matchup between two of the promotion’s top 155-pound competitors. Henderson is taking on all comers in his quest to leave the UFC with no choice but to eventually give him another title fight. Dos Anjos will have to produce the best performance of his career in order to make a major statement and spoil Henderson’s master plan.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports