SEATTLE – Benson Henderson, who has boldly voiced his desire to eclipse Anderson Silva’s record for consecutive title defenses in the Octagon, moved a tiny step closer Saturday night at Key Arena by shutting out No. 1 contender Nate Diaz over five rounds in the UFC on FOX 5 main event to retain his UFC lightweight belt.
The triumph marked Henderson’s second successful title defense, meaning the well-rounded Arizonan must now defend his title at least nine more times to surpass Silva (assuming Silva does not continue to win and raise that total).
“I’m not going nowhere!” the amped up champ yelled as he began the walk back toward his dressing room. “How many more do I have to win? 12?”
The former collegiate wrestler put on a wrestling clinic, taking Diaz down at will each round and landing some heavy leather on top. Henderson (18-2) also dropped the Stockton, Calif., fighter with an overhand left in round two and a booming right hand in round three. The latter shot came after Diaz had daringly dropped his haunts and taunted Henderson by yelling, “What!?”
As always, despite a badly swollen right eye, Diaz continued to scrap and mix it up the entire way. He threatened with foot locks and heel hooks but could not sink them in against Henderson, owner of some of the game’s best submission defense.
“It’s just a matter of being well prepared and being in the gym as much as possible,” said Henderson, noting he had entered the cage “with a heavy heart” because a teammate’s mother is battling lymphoma and another friend’s teenage son recently died in a hiking accident.
“Fighting is cool but … there’s a lot more to life,” he said. “Cherish your loved ones. Life is a lot shorter than we think. I fought with a heavy heart tonight.”
Judges scored the fight 50-43, 50-45 and 50-45 for Henderson, who has now won six straight.