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Bellator 292 results: Usman Nurmagomedov retires Benson Henderson with first-round finish to defend lightweight title

Bellator MMA

Usman Nurmagomedov retired an MMA legend at Bellator 292.

With UFC champ Islam Makhachev in his corner, Nurmagomedov needed less than a round to submit Benson Henderson and notch the first defense of his lightweight title in Friday night’s main event, which took place at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. Nurmagomedov (17-0) dropped Henderson (30-12) with a head kick in the bout’s opening seconds, then swarmed with punches before taking back control and securing a rear-naked choke finish, becoming just the third man to ever submit the former UFC champion inside an MMA cage.

With his win, Nurmagomedov advanced to the semifinals of Bellator’s lightweight grand prix.

“We have more work to do,” Nurmagomedov vowed afterward.

Henderson, 39, laid his gloves down in the cage and announced his retirement after the bout. One of the most decorated lightweights of his era, Henderson captured the UFC and WEC titles during his 17-year MMA career and earned wins over a plethora of big names such as Frankie Edgar (x2), Nate Diaz, Gilbert Melendez, Donald Cerrone (x2), Jorge Masvidal, Josh Thomson, and more.

“These last four fights I signed with Bellator, I told myself that if I lose at all any of these last four fights, then it’s about that time,” said an emotional Henderson.

“I’ve had a nice, long run. I’ve done a lot of great things and was able to do a lot of amazing accomplishments, and thank you to everybody around the world. Thank you guys for your love and support, I appreciate that.”

In the night’s co-main event, Alexander Shabliy (23-3) emerged as the other lightweight to advance to the grand prix semifinals with a bizarre third-round stoppage of Tofiq Musayev (20-5).

With both men stamped as dark horses to win the whole tournament, the two prospects fought through two competitive — if somewhat uneventful — rounds before the controversial sequence that ended Musayev’s night just 29 seconds into the Round 3. Shabliy threw a teep kick to the midsection that appeared to land flush — only to then catch Musayev’s cup on its way down. After deliberation, referee Jason Herzog ruled that the kick only caused “incidental contact” to the top of Musayev’s cup and that the damage incapacitating Musayev was caused by Shabliy’s legal kick to the midsection.

Once Musayev said he was unable to continue, Herzog stopped the bout. Bellator CEO Scott Coker revealed post-fight that Musayev suffered a broken rib from the kick.

All three California judges had Shabliy up 20-18 entering the third round.

“Whether you like it not, I’m going to be the champion,” Shabliy said through a translator. “I’m going to get that belt eventually. Tofiq is a great guy, he’s a great opponent, but I have to move on.”

Elsewhere on the card, Linton Vassell (24-8) exacted sweet revenge on Valentin Moldavsky (11-3) four years after the first meeting, which Moldavsky won via unanimous decision.

This time around it was Vassell’s turn. In a battle to likely determine the next contender for Bellator heavyweight champion Ryan Bader, Vassell dropped Moldavsky midway through the opening round with a thunderous right hand, then immediately pounced and rained down elbows from mount to secure the knockout stoppage at 3:03 of Round 1.

The win pushed Vassell’s current win streak to five straight with four stoppages.

“There’s no probably — there’s Ryan Bader [next]. He knows it, I know it. They know it,” Vassell proclaimed. “It’s going to happen soon.”

In the opening bout of Bellator 292’s main card, Michael Page (21-2) took on Goiti Yamauchi (28-6) in a clash between Bellator’s all-time knockouts and submissions leaders — and Page needed a single strike to secure one of the most gruesome finishes of the year.

“MVP” landed a kick to Yamauchi’s right leg just 26 seconds into the contest that appeared to badly injure Yamauchi’s kneecap, bringing the action to a swift and grisly end.

Video of Page’s winning sequence can be seen here.

The performance marked Page’s 11th KO/TKO win under the Bellator umbrella, the most ever in the promotion’s history. Afterward, he expressed concern for Yamauchi’s health and called for a title shot against undefeated Bellator welterweight champion Yaroslav Amosov.

Complete Bellator 292 results can be seen below.

Main Card

Preliminary Card

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