Benson Henderson’s first finish in 10 Octagon outings could not have come at a better time.
Faced with a tough but relatively unknown opponent in Rustam Khabilov, the former UFC champion needed a statement win at UFC Fight Night Albuquerque to affirm his position as MMA’s second-ranked lightweight. After weathering a series of takedowns in the early rounds, Henderson dropped the Russian with a pair of punches and then pounced to squeeze out a rear-naked choke submission. Despite a few controversial decisions, Henderson has now emerged victorious from all but one of his UFC appearances. A rematch with the man who handed him that loss, Anthony Pettis, will have to wait, as the champion is currently lined up for a meeting with Gilbert Melendez when the pair finishes filming the 20th season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”
Henderson was not the only lightweight who put on a strong showing on the UFC’s June 7 card. Rafael dos Anjos, who saw his title hopes derailed by Khabib Nurmagomedov in April, righted his ship with a victory over downsized welterweight Jason High. The win was not without controversy -- High complained of punches to the back of the head during dos Anjos’ fight-ending salvo -- but the Brazilian nonetheless looked impressive against a solid competitor.
At bantamweight, Bryan Caraway enters the top 10 thanks to his second-round submission of Erik Perez. The Las Vegas-based fighter has finished four of his five UFC opponents with chokes and has lost only once since 2010 -- a narrow split decision against Takeya Mizugaki.
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