Russian lightweight phenom Usman Nurmagomedov extended his perfect professional record to 17-0 with a swift submission of Benson Henderson at Bellator 292 in San Jose.
Competing in the first round of the Bellator Lightweight World Grand Prix, Nurmagomedov put his title on the line against former UFC and WEC 155-pound champion Henderson, who was looking to make a run at a third world title before hanging up his gloves and heading into retirement.
But the 24-year-old from Dagestan had no room for sentiment as he dominated Henderson en route to a first-round rear-naked choke finish of the 39-year-old veteran.
It took Nurmagomedov a shade over half a round to finish Henderson as he delivered a statement to the rest of the field in the Lightweight World Grand Prix with an emphatic finish of the most experienced man in the tournament.
Heading into the fight, Henderson stated his intention to fight out the remaining three bouts of his contract, win the Grand Prix, then retire to devote his time to his family, including his wife’s fledgling MMA career.
But, after his defeat to Nurmagomedov eliminated him from the tournament, Henderson removed his gloves and announced his retirement.
“I’ve had a nice long run,” he told John McCarthy inside the Bellator cage.
“I’ve done a lot of great things. I was able to do a lot of accomplishments. Thank you to everybody around the world. Thank you guys for your love and support. I appreciate that.”
Nurmagomedov, meanwhile, moves on to the semi-final stage of the tournament, where he’ll take on the winner of the upcoming first-round bout between Mansour Barnaoui and Brent Primus, which takes place in Paris in May.
The co-main event saw the tournament’s other Russian contender, Alexander Shabliy, claimed a third-round TKO finish of former Rizin lightweight champion Tofiq Musayev, while there were also wins for the two British fighters on the main card, with heavyweight Linton Vassell and welterweight Michael Page both claiming first-round finishes to put themselves in line for shots at Bellator gold in their respective weight classes.
Bellator 292: Official results
- Usman Nurmagomedov def. Benson Henderson via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:37 – tournament bout (for lightweight title)
- Alexander Shabliy def. Tofiq Musayev via TKO (body kick) – Round 3, 0:29 – tournament bout
- Linton Vassell def. Valentin Moldavsky via knockout (ground strikes) – Round 1, 3:03
- Michael Page def. Goiti Yamauchi via TKO (leg kick) – Round 1, 0:26
- Enrique Barzola def. Erik Perez via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
- Josh Hill def. Cass Bell via split decision (28-29, 29-28, 29-28)
- Khalid Murtazaliev def. Tony Johnson via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Dovletzhan Yagshimuradov def. Julius Anglickas via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
- Laird Anderson def. Rogelio Luna via technical submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 2:41
- Theo Haig def. Adam Wamsley via submission (guillotine choke) – Round 1, 3:01