It didn’t take Usman Nurmagomedov long to secure the first defense of his lightweight title at Bellator 292 on Friday night, sending former UFC and WEC champ Benson Henderson into retirement in the process.
Nurmagomedov (17-0) picked up the submission win inside of a round, maintaining his perfect record and advancing to the semifinals of the lightweight grand prix.
He’s expected to take on the winner of Brent Primus vs. Mansour Barnaoui, a fight expected to transpire in Paris this May. But to hear him tell it, he doesn’t care who he faces.
In fact, that’s exactly what he said backstage on Friday night at the SAP Center in San Jose, CA. “I don’t care, either Barnaoui going to win, or Brett,” Nurmagomedov told the assembled media. “I really don’t care. See you in second round.”
The question mark kick that Nurmagomedov used to knock Henderson down prior to the finish isn’t a new trick, but rather one he opted to show in MMA for the first time. “I begin my career in Muay Thai. This is not new in my technique, but I don’t show you. Now I show you.”
As for the finish, Nurmagomedov was being careful not to force it, knowing what a wily customer the veteran Henderson was.
“I was not in a rush to finish him, because I knew that if I wasted too much energy, he might get away, and then it’s going to cost me a lot,” Nurmagomedov said. “So I was taking my time, and then when I saw the opportunity, I grabbed it and I went all the way.”
Watch the full Bellator 292 post-fight press conference with Usman Nurmagomedov above.