Benson Henderson won a decision over Josh Thomson in the main event of UFC on Fox 10 Saturday night in Chicago but the judges' immediately sparked controversy. The fight was competitive and closely fought but Thomson appeared to be on his way to a decision win on the strength of grappling superiority in at least three of the fight's five rounds.
In the end, however, two judges saw it for Henderson, giving him the split decision win. Two different judges scored the fight 29-28, one for Henderson and one for Thomson.
The tie-breaking judge, however, saw the fight four rounds to one in favor of Henderson, scoring it 49-46 for "Smooth."
Thomson had the advantage in take downs in the first, second and fourth rounds and also managed to secure dominant back control in each of those rounds. Even so, the fight was competitive enough that one could imagine a reasonable judge seeing it three rounds to two for either fighter.
Four rounds to one in favor of Henderson seemed like a car-cry from what was deserved by either fighter.
After Thomson apparently sustained a serious hand injury in the first or second round, Henderson rallied and out struck him on the feet and out-grappled "The Punk" in the third round. The fifth round was the fight's closest, and difficult to score.
Boos cascaded down into the Octagon as the decision was announced in the United Center. Josh Thomson shook Henderson's hand immediately but then shook his head in disbelief as he walked out of the cage and back towards the locker room.
With the win, Henderson got back on the winning track after losing the UFC lightweight title last August to Anthony Pettis. The 35 year old Thomson now finds himself on the losing end in two out of his last three fights, with both losses being very close decisions.
With the Pettis out of commission for an indefinite period of time with an injured knee, it isn't clear whether or not we can yet know who will challenge him next for his belt. Henderson may have convinced the UFC brass that he's earned another crack at the belt with his controversial decision win over Thomson.
Or the closeness of the fight, combined with time and Pettis and Thomson's injuries may lead to a more prolonged search for a clear number one contender to Pettis' belt.