Anderson Silva's status as the mythical best pound-for-pound fighter in MMA picked up a lot of steam when he defeated Pride's champion in the weight class, Dan Henderson, by submission in the main event of UFC 82, held March 1, 2008, at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
Henderson won the first round of their fight, but tired in the second round and was finished with a choke at 4:52 of the round. Silva's argument strengthened since Henderson, the only man to hold simultaneous championships in different weight classes in a major organization in MMA history, had gone the distance in losing to Quinton Jackson, the light heavyweight champ, in his previous fight. And at no point in the Jackson-Henderson match was Henderson in serious trouble.
The show was interesting, since name fighters Andrei Arlovski and Josh Koscheck were put in unaired preliminary fights with their UFC contracts expiring.
Arlovski lost the first round to Jake O'Brien, before knocking him out at 4:17 of the second round. It was Arlovski's last fight in the UFC as he signed a huge money contract with Affliction, and earned $750,000 for his debut fight with the new promotion against Ben Rothwell.
Koscheck also lost the first round to Dustin Hazelett, but came back with a spectacular high kick knockout that turned the around crowd of 16,431 fans, who had booed the entire fight, to chanting his name. Koscheck signed a renewal and has remained a regular with the company, but his title aspirations took blows with losses to Thiago Alves and Paulo Thiago.
The show also featured the return of former middleweight champion Evan Tanner, who returned after a nearly two-year hiatus of traveling the country. He was stopped in the second round by a knee to the chin from Yushin Okami. Tanner later claimed all the damage he had done to himself by abusing alcohol during his absence made him not ready to compete at this high a level this soon into getting back to training. It was the next to last fight of Tanner's career as he passed away several months later after dehydration in a California desert.
At the show, Mark Coleman, who was an NCAA champion at Ohio State 20 years earlier and an early UFC heavyweight champion, was inducted into the company's Hall of Fame. It was also announced Coleman would face Brock Lesnar at UFC 87 in Minneapolis. Coleman suffered a knee injury in training and Lesnar ended up facing and beating Heath Herring. Herring scored his biggest UFC win on this show when he won a split decision of Cheick Kongo. The win took Kongo out of the running for a championship match.
Jon Fitch tied the UFC all-time record for consecutive wins, also held by Royce Gracie, with his eighth straight victory, besting Chris Wilson via decision. Fitch earned a title shot at Georges St. Pierre, which ended his streak. Anderson Silva has since broken the win streak record when he beat Thales Leites on April 19, 2009, in Montreal, for his ninth consecutive victory.
Quoteworthy: "I still don’t consider myself the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world," – Silva, after stopping Dan Henderson.
Jorge Gurgel def. John Halverson, unanimous decision
Diego Sanchez def. David Bielkheden, TKO, 4:43 R1
Josh Koscheck def. Dustin Hazelett, TKO, 1:24 R2
Luigi Fioravanti def. Luke Cummo, unanimous decision
Andrei Arlovski def. Jake O'Brien, TKO, 4:17 R2
Jon Fitch def. Chris Wilson, unanimous decision
Yushin Okami def. Evan Tanner, KO, 3:00 R2
Chris Leben def. Alessio Sakara, TKO, 3:16 R1
Heath Herring def. Cheick Kongo, split decision
Middleweight title unification match: Anderson Silva (UFC) def. Dan Henderson (PRIDE), submission (rear naked choke), 4:52 R2