The stage was set for Benson Henderson at Bellator 292, as the former UFC and WEC champion had one last opportunity to claim Bellator gold in a five-round main event bout with undefeated champion Usman Nurmagomedov.
The fight doubled as both a championship bout and a $1M Bellator Lightweight World Grand Prix quarterfinal match-up, with the winner moving on to the semifinals of the tournament.
While the pair of lightweights travelled to San Jose with star-studded corners, Nurmagomedov’s including UFC Lightweight Champion Islam Makhachev, both men entered the cage alone in arguably the biggest fight of their respective careers.
Early on, the 24 year-old champion sent Benson Henderson crashing to the mat with a vicious question mark kick that would make Luke Rockhold proud. Nurmagomedov pounced on Henderson, swiftly transitioning to the back before submitting Henderson via rear-naked choke.
Usman Nurmagomedov defends his lightweight title! 🏆 #Bellator292
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) March 11, 2023
Nurmagomedov voiced his tremendous respect for Henderson in his post-fight interview with Big John McCarthy, showing that there was no personal tension between the legend and himself.
Henderson took the mic next, announcing his retirement from mixed-martial arts following an illustrious fighting career. Widely considered one of the greatest lightweight of all-time, Henderson will ride off into the sunset, devoting his time to coaching his fighters at the MMA Lab — including his wife Maria who recently signed with Bellator.
Nurmagomedov moves on to the semifinals of the $1M Bellator Lightweight World Grand Prix, where he’ll be met by either Brent Primus or Mansour Barnaoui.
Official Result: Usman Nurmagomedov def. Benson Henderson by submission (Rear-naked choke), Round 1, 2:37