Sat Nov 12 08:59pm EST
ANAHEIM - Benson Henderson and Clay Guida weren't part of the UFC's Fox network TV debut, but they still put on a show that the 14,039 in attendance will never forget.
After 15 minutes of non-stop action that had the huge crowd at the Honda Center roaring with approval, Henderson got the nod on the scorecards, 29-28, 30-27 and 30-27, but fight was a lot closer than the scores made it appear.
"Ben set a fast pace from the get go. That fight was a rollercoaster and Ben is a hell of a warrior. Fifteen minutes goes by so quickly in there and I still don't know what exactly happened. Ben was better tonight and this is just a speed bump for me, not a roadblock," said Guida
Henderson, a former WEC 155-pound champion, has worked his way through an impressive of some of the best fighters in the world to earn his chance against UFC champ Frank Edgar. Henderson and Edgar expected to meet in late February in Japan. Guida (29-12, 9-6 UFC) was the final step and made it tough.
Henderson (15-2, 3-0 UFC) was dropped a few times and found himself in some dangerous submission predicaments, even during the final seconds of the fight. Guida worked a guillotine choke for more than 20 seconds. Henderson escaped to avoid a shocking conclusion with just 12 seconds left in the fight.
The talk for much of the week leading into the fight was the mild frustration both fighters felt because their co-main event fight wasn't going to be featured on Fox. UFC and network executives made the bold decision of building the entire hour around one fight, the UFC heavyweight title tilt between Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos.Guida and Henderson channeled their frustration into a helluva battle.
"I'm happy but I know that I can do a lot better than that. 30-27 was great but I always work to finish and I made a few mistakes that didn't allow me to do that. I was stepping into my jab a little too deep and I felt like my timing was a little off. Still, I'm glad I was able to hold it together for the win," said Henderson
Henderson is a well-rounded fighter so he decided to take on Guida at his own game - grappling in close quarters. In between throwing strikes wildly at each other, the fighters battled along the cage for control of the clinch.
They came out slugging in the first 20 seconds of the fight. Henderson dropped Guida with a big left. Henderson really controlled the clinch for the next three minutes landing some nasty knees. Guida scrambled and tried for a standing guillotine choke but couldn't secure it. Henderson locked up the round with a late takedown.
In the second, the fighters exchanged takedowns early. Henderson again landed some good knees in the clinch. Guida threatened with another standing guillotine attempt, but rushed it and dropped to his rear too quickly. Henderson was able to escape. He won a scramble late and actually took Guida's back to work a choke. The horn sounded before he could get a tight hold.
Henderson ate a big right early in the third and then just missed with a dynamic axe kick. His takedown defense was on display as he was driven all the way across the cage on a double-leg attempt by Guida.
Guida, knowing he was probably trailing in the fight, went for broke with a head kick attempt. He missed and his leg landed on Henderson's shoulder making for an any takedown. Guida was on back with little chance of pulling off a late miracle, but he almost did. He scrambled to take Henderson's back and lock on that final choke, but he ran out of time.
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