Former lightweight champion Ben Henderson took a big step towards another title shot tonight at UFC Fight Night 42 with an impressive submission victory against Rustam Khabilov in the main event of the evening in New Mexico.
The main event of the evening is underway. Khabilov firing off a few kicks and punches to start.
Henderson with a high front kick that misses. Khabilov with punches from clinch range. Both fighters looking bright in the opening minute.
Khabilov with another nice flurry of strikes at close range and then breaks away.
The pace settles a bit now. Henderson starting to take the center of the Octagon and Khabilov darting around on the outside. Nice straight punches from Khabilov on the outside.
Henderson presses forward with punches and a nice knee to the midsection as Khabilov backs up against the cage. However, Khabilov then locks up and takes Henderson down. Back up and Khabilov still has his back and tries his trademark suplex, but Henderson nicely thwarts it by hooking his opponent’s leg.
Khabilov lands a nice elbow as Henderson leaves himself open.
Henderson lands a left, but gets countered in the process. Khabilov misses with an uppercut. Henderson attempts a kick and Khabilov times it perfectly to take him down and ends the round on top with ground and pound.
Khabilov with a punch and then a spinning attack early in the second round, but Henderson stays composed and lands a counter.
Henderson with a flurry from the clinch and they have a battle of strength there against the cage before breaking apart.
Henderson with a knee stomp and then tries to jump in with a punch, but misses and Khabilov goes for a takedown and lands it.
Henderson trying to attack from the bottom and then gets space to stand up again.
Henderson pressing forward again and manages to shunt around to Khabilov’s back and drags him to the mat. He gets the body lock in place and starts trying to sink in a rear-naked choke.
90 seconds of the round to go and Khabilov suddenly spins out nicely and gets back upright. Henderson still got a hold of him though and presses him against the cage as he tries to get him back down. Nothing doing though and Khabilov knocks him off-balance slightly with a trip and moves away.
Big leg kick from Henderson knocks Khabilov off kilter. Just as the round is coming to a close Khabilov counters a kick with a good punch that rocks Henderson’s head back.
Khabilov manages to partially catch a kick and use it to get Henderson to the mat early in round three. Henderson onto his knees as Khabilov tries to keep him down, but then opts to just knee him as he gets up.
Henderson with a kick to the body. He’s still the one taking the center of the Octagon. Khabilov tries to clinch up, but then backs away.
Front kick to the face from Khabilov misses. Henderson clinches up and when they break apart Khabilov lands a nice punch.
Leg kick from Henderson and then another brief clinch.
Good body kick from Henderson and an uppercut. Henderson going for a guillotine choke and drops down with it, but Khabilov scrambles and gets back up to his feet.
Henderson tries to stay locked in and get another takedown, but Khabilov gets out of danger.
Henderson still pushing the pace as Khabilov moves with his back to the Octagon cage. Suddenly Khabilov rushes forward and lands a good takedown.
Beautiful reversal from Henderson though and now he’s on top in his opponent’s half guard looking to pass, but with only 10 seconds of the round remaining he settles for some short shots to the head instead.
Henderson back to commanding the center of the cage. Right hand from Khabilov and a little knee stomp.
Henderson tries to clinch up against the cage, but it’s a stalemate and they break apart.
Very nice right uppercut and and then a left behind it from Henderson as he rushes forward and Khabilov’s hurt, sinking to his knees.
Henderson immediately pounces on Khabilov’s back, sinks in the rear-naked choke and forces a quick tap!
Excellent finish from Henderson and a very good all-round performance against a tough opponent in Khabilov.