Benson Henderson showed the skill and experience of a former champion as he outworked Jorge Masvidal and earn a split decision victory at UFC Fight Night 79 in Seoul, South Korea on Saturday.
Masvidal was the aggressor for most of the first round, pushing forward and cutting the ring as he stalked the former lightweight title holder.
He was able to find the target with several body kicks and punches, and stuffed Henderson’s sole takedown attempt, but was also knocked down in the fourth minute.
Henderson seemed to find his range in the second round and managed open a cut on Masvidal’s forehead to put an exclamation mark on an otherwise even round.
In the third, the fiercest battles were fought up against the cage, in the clinching exchanges, as Masvidal and Henderson both showed excellent takedown defence and the latter also displayed his more creative and varied close-range striking arsenal.
Henderson controlled most of these wrestling exchanges, and this dominance continued into round four.
Going into the last round, Masvidal would likely have known he needed a knockout or submission to win the match. He made several guillotine attempts, but the experienced and skilled Henderson was never really in trouble.
The judges awarded Henderson the victory with scores of 48-47, 47-48 and 49-46. The 32-year-old has now won both of his bouts at welterweight, but his performance on Saturday is unlikely to see him rocket at the division’s rankings or move much closer to a title shot.
Meanwhile, local favourite Dong Hyun Kim picked up a technical knockout victory over Dominic Waters in the second last bout, with the referee stopping the fight 03:11 into round one.
In other results from the main card at the Olympic Gymastics Arena, Brazil’s Alberto Mina earned a surprise split decision win over Japan’s Yoshihiro Akiyama (29-28, 28-29, 29-28) and South Korea’s Doo Ho Choi finished Sam Sicilia with punches 01:33 into round one.