Sports

UFC: Ben Henderson dominates, title shot next up?

Decatur High School graduate Ben Henderson dominated Jim Miller Sunday night at UFC on Versus 5 card in Milwaukee. The win was Henderson’s second straight in the UFC over top contenders in the 155-pound lightweight division.  - Photo courtesy Zuffa
Decatur High School graduate Ben Henderson dominated Jim Miller Sunday night at UFC on Versus 5 card in Milwaukee. The win was Henderson’s second straight in the UFC over top contenders in the 155-pound lightweight division.
— image credit: Photo courtesy Zuffa

Ben Henderson’s rise through the lightweight division in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) took another huge step Sunday night.

The Decatur High School graduate dominated Jim Miller in the co-main event at the UFC on Versus 5 event at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee. Henderson won a unanimous decision over Miller to run his mixed-martial arts record to 14-2 overall and 2-0 in the UFC. Miller, who was riding a seven-match winning streak, fell to 20-3 overall.

“Waves pound, the ocean goes, I beat people up, that’s what I do,” smiled Henderson after the fight Sunday.

The win over Miller puts Henderson right in the UFC 155-pound lightweight title mix, along with Gray Maynard, Clay Guida and Melvin Guillard. Maynard is fighting champion Frankie Edgar in October.

“To be honest with you, I’m not really sure (where I rank),” Henderson said. “It’s not really my place to say, ‘Oh, I’m this guy – No. 7, No. 10, No. 21.’ It doesn’t really matter to me. I just want to get my hand raised. I’ll do my talking inside of the cage. I think the top guys are Guida, Guillard and myself. Miller was stated as the next guy in line for a title shot. Whoever. Whatever.”

Henderson’s two-match winning streak in the UFC came after losing his World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) title to Anthony “Showtime” Pettis in the WEC’s final event.

The loss to Pettis was Henderson’s first loss since 2007. He won the WEC lightweight title with a decision over Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone on Oct. 10, 2009, and held it until losing to Pettis on Dec. 16, 2010.

From the opening bell Sunday night, Miller was intent on taking every opportunity he could to finish early. But Henderson fought off every submission attack and kept his hands moving and scoring points with his strikes and dominated all three rounds.

“My gameplans aren’t really that intricate,” said Henderson after the fight. “It’s more I just do whatever I need to do to get my hand raised. (Miller) came at me, we ended up in the clinch and I’m pretty good in the clinch.”

Henderson, 28, began wrestling during his time at Lakota Middle School and continued at Decatur, where he competed under head coach Mike Bressler.

His prep career culminated with a second-place finish at the 2001 Mat Classic state wrestling championships inside the Tacoma Dome, losing to University’s Tommy Owen in the 135-pound title match.

After Decatur, Henderson went on to wrestle at Dana College in Nebraska, where he earned NAIA All-American honors as a senior after finishing in fifth place at 157 pounds in 2006. Henderson’s performance helped Dana College win the NAIA national championship that year. He actually started MMA fighting a year later after a dare from a couple of Dana wrestlers.

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