Former UFC lightweight champ Benson Henderson faced an “Ass-Kicking Machine” in the form of Jason Jackson at Bellator 253. A short-notice fight at welterweight, that pairing served as the evening’s co-main event.
Jackson was unquestionably in the biggest fight of his career against the former champ. And he held his own Thursday, on the feet and on the mat, able to fight off a key takedown attempt from Henderson in the first half of the opening round. Jackson hit home with leg kicks, and had the size advantage. While Henderson seemed to find his rhythm as the round progressed, he wound up under fire at the buzzer, eating a number of strikes and a head-kick that was partially blocked.
The pair picked up more or less where they left off to start the second. Jackson pressed the attack, forcing Henderson to circle on the outside. Henderson’s takedown attempts during the fight were stuffed or worse, reversed, which was the case early in the second. Jackson then found himself in guard with over three minutes remaining. Plenty of time to work some magic, in other words. While Henderson would escape near the end of the round, he gave up his back in the process. Jackson didn’t have time to capitalize however.
Round three saw Henderson behind. Needing a finish. But his takedown attempts continued to fall short, and Jackson’s improved grappling, thanks to training with the likes of Gilbert Burns at Florida’s Sanford MMA, was demoralizing. In the end, Jackson cruised to victory on the scorecards.
Pushing forty, Benson Henderson is nearing the end of his career — something “Smooth” himself admitted earlier this week. The one saving grace in the loss to Jackson is that it came at welterweight, rather than Henderson’s natural lightweight stomping grounds. That’s not to take away from Jackson’s effort, and he’s put himself on the map in Bellator with this win — if he hadn’t already.
Official Result: Jason Jackson def. Benson Henderson by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)