Usman Nurmagomedov retains Bellator title; Henderson retires

Marc RaimondiESPN Writer3 minute read

Usman Nurmagomedov defends his title with the defeat of Benson Henderson

Usman Nurmagomedov quickly sends Benson Henderson into retirement by knocking him down and later forcing him into submission to retain his title.

Khabib Nurmagomedov has retired from fighting and training. But the Nurmagomedov last name is in good hands in MMA.

Usman Nurmagomedov, Khabib’s younger cousin, stopped former UFC champion Benson Henderson via submission (rear naked choke) 2 minutes and 37 seconds into the first round on Friday night in the main event of Bellator 292 in San Joseph, California.

Nurmagomedov made his first successful defense of the Bellator lightweight title. The bout was also a Bellator Lightweight World Grand Prix tournament quarterfinal.

Henderson announced his retirement after the fight, leaving his gloves inside the cage.

Nurmagomedov dropped Henderson early with a Brazilian Kick or Question Mark, which initially looks like a kick to the body but then bends at the knee to the head. Nurmagomedov grabbed Henderson directly on the chin, then brought him down. From there, Nurmagomedov worked for a choke. Henderson fought valiantly but succumbed to submission.

It was only the second time Henderson had been finished in nine years. He had only been knocked out once in his career, in his third professional fight in 2007.

Nurmagomedov will advance to the Grand Prix semi-finals against the winner of a May 12 fight between former champion Brent Primus and Mansour Barnaoui. Nurmagomedov said in his post-fight interview that he didn’t care who he faced next.

“I don’t care,” Nurmagomedov said. “Anyone. I don’t choose, I don’t choose.”

Nurmagomedov (17-0) is now 6-0 at Bellator. He had just won a title against Patricky Freire in November. Nurmagomedov, 24, is one of the best young fighters in the world. ESPN had him listed last year as its No. 1 on its list of top MMA fighters under 25.

Henderson (30-12) had a two-game winning streak snapped by Nurmagomedov. The Arizona resident had three consecutive defenses of the UFC lightweight title in 2012 and 2013, which is tied for the record with BJ Penn, Frankie Edgar and Khabib Nurmagomedov. Henderson, 39, is also a former WEC lightweight champion.

Nicknamed “Smooth,” Henderson signed with Bellator as a free agent in 2016 after a win over Jorge Masvidal and went 7-7 in the promotion.

Leave a Comment