Fighter of the Month June 2014 – Benson Henderson
By Christopher Jester
Fighter of the Month: Benson Henderson
Event: UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Khabilov (June 7, 2014)
Opponent: Rustam Khabilov
Result: Submission (Rear-Naked Choke), 4th Round
Benson Henderson has had it rough lately. Although he is one of the most talented lightweight fighters in the world, he faces a harsh amount of criticism for his approach to the game. He is methodical, multifaceted, and a complete mixed martial artist. But as talented as he is, he constantly takes flack for his inability to finish his opponents.
It was not all smooth in his June 7th match-up against Rustam Khabilov either. The UFC has been tempting these standout fighters in match-ups against up-and-comers lately to see if they can hang onto their status as overlords of their respective division. Henderson was in such a place here against the Russian Khabilov who was all game because he had nothing to lose.
He was easily becoming Henderson’s foil inside the Octagon too. Henderson was not as controlling on the mat or in the clinch. His strikes were coming up a bit short against Khabilov. In fact, many gave the first two rounds to the Russian-born fighter and the third round was close as well. However, where Henderson excels is modifying his tactics throughout the fight; adapting to his opponent.
In the middle of the third round, Henderson appeared to gain his groove and that was all he needed as he cruised into the fourth like a man with a vendetta. He would catch Khabilov making a mistake later in the round and pulled him in for a rear-naked choke. Seconds later, Khabilov had no choice but to tap. It would become Henderson’s first finish since April 2010.
If he has to wait until he defeats three people to get back to Anthony Pettis, Henderson is willing to wait. If he has to play gatekeeper, he is calling the shots and what a gatekeeper this man is. Henderson is a tough outing for anyone and for his performance; PunchDrunkGamer would like to announce Benson “Smooth” Henderson as our June Fighter of the Month! Congratulations, Henderson and way to go on proving why you are still #1 in the UFC’s lightweight division!
1. Cub Swanson (UFC Fight Night: Swanson vs. Stephens – June 28, 2014) – Cub Swanson was crafty in his victory over Jeremy Stephens. It was no easy feat as he had to work in all aspects of the game to defeat Stephens. The heavy-handed Stephens never quit, even with a broken hand in the fight. But it was Swanson’s performance that earned him the victory over Stephens and one step closer to a title fight.
2. Demetrious Johnson (UFC 174 – June 14, 2014) – Mighty Mouse is moving up the pound-4-pound rankings after every performance. While he may not have finished this opponent as he had in his previous two fights, Johnson showcased why he may be the most talented fighter in the world. He is a true mixed martial artist and is showcasing that he is among the elites of elites of champions. His may have a very long reign as UFC Flyweight Champion.
3. Charles Oliveira (UFC Fight Night: Swanson vs. Stephens – June 28, 2014) –We all know that Charles Oliveira is talented. Perhaps a bit inconsistent but when he catches you in a submission, rarely do you escape. But it is even rare to see a Peruvian necktie inside the Octagon. Yet, Oliveira did just that to Hatsu Hioki and continued to add an impressive streak of submissions to his resume.
4. Rory MacDonald (UFC 174 – June 14, 2014) – MacDonald may have once been painted as the next welterweight kingpin but a few losses made everyone forget why. This fight was the type of performance that refreshed our memories. MacDonald can be one mean SOB when he wants to be, and the way he chopped down Tyron Woodley through this match demonstrated that he may very well still be a potential title challenger.
5. John Dodson (UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Khabilov – June 7, 2014) – The fight may not have ended the way Dodson wanted it to, but he put on the type of performance that showed why he is the most dangerous man at flyweight without a belt. With speed that can match Demetrious Johnson’s and knockout power of a heavyweight, Dodson can bruise and batter anyone, anywhere. John Moraga found that out the hard way when the doctor had to call off the fight because he survived an onslaught by Dodson that lead to lacerations deep enough for the doctor to say enough. Dodson is well on his way back to fighting Johnson for the title.
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