Never leave it in the hands of the judges. Unless your name is Benson Henderson.
Josh Thomson learned what fighters like Frankie Edgar and Gilbert Melendez did before him: If you go the distance in a close fight with the former UFC and WEC lightweight champion, Henderson is going to get the nod.
Henderson was a split-decision winner in the main event of UFC on FOX 10 at Chicago's United Center on Saturday night after a hard-fought 25 minute contest. Henderson took cards of 48-47 and 49-46, while Thomson got a 48-47 call on the third judges' card. This author scored the bout 48-47 Thomson.
The bout was a tale of two fights, as Thomson, the former Strikeforce lightweight champion, likely won the first two rounds. In a fun, fast moving, and yet tactical first round, Thomson got Henderson's back early and stayed there working for submissions for nearly three minutes. Henderson got back to his feet and the rest of the round was back and forth.
Round two was also fast-paced, but Thomson turned it up at the end and appeared to seal it.
However, Thomson also apparently broke his right hand during the round. The fight's complexion changed in round three as Thomson attempted to find another path to victory, but Henderson clearly won the middle round. By round four, Thomson found his footing again and appeared to steal the round with a late takedown and submission attempt.
Round five was clearly Henderson's, as he mixed up his kicks and used his movement and superb conditioning to stay a step ahead of "The Punk."
Henderson's victory throws the lightweight division into question. Thomson was scheduled to get a title shot at champion Anthony Pettis in December, but Pettis had to pull out and undergo knee surgery. Henderson is the clear-cut No. 2 in the division, but he has lost twice to Pettis.
Those are Henderson's only two losses in his past 19 fights, as he improved to 20-3. Thomson dropped to 20-6 with 1 no-contest.