This past Friday night, the Lightweight Grand Prix kicked off at Bellator 292. In the main event of the evening, undisputed lightweight champion Usman Nurmagomedov (16-0) defended his title against former UFC and WEC lightweight champion Benson Henderson (30-12).
Despite being a former world champion, Benson Henderson was given virtually no chance by odds makers in this matchup. Not because he wasn’t capable, but simply because of how good and dominant the 24-year-old lightweight champion is.
Things started out very fast on Friday night with Nurmagomedov throwing a big head kick. Despite slipping on the kick, he was able to connect on Henderson which dropped the former world champion. Nurmagomedov pounced and the fight continued on the ground, but the end wasn’t far away.
After ground fighting for a bit, Nurmagomedov was able to lock in a rear naked choke against the fence. Henderson fought it for a bit but ultimately was forced to tap. Another dominant win where the Bellator champion made it look easy.
Can anyone in Bellator hang with Nurmagomedov?
With this win, Nurmagomedov successfully defended his title and booked his ticket for the semifinals of the Grand Prix. For Nurmagomedov, his attention will turn to May 12th when Mansour Barnaoui takes on former world champion Brent Primus in Paris.
Definitely get the feeling that Barnaoui is going to be the big betting favorite in front of his home country. Not too mention the man is a big time finisher having finished 19 of his 20 wins. That said, whoever wins in May is going to be a massive underdog to the Bellator champion.
In fact, anyone outside of AJ McKee is going to be a huge betting underdog. McKee would also be a big betting underdog but given his skillset and name recognition, the former featherweight champion would get more favorable odds.
All that being said, I don’t see anyone in Bellator’s lightweight division topping Nurmagomedov. Nurmagomedov’s lead training partner is UFC lightweight champion Islam Makhachev. It’s crazy to think that the two lightweight champions for the two biggest promotions are in the same gym.
I would truly love to see how Nurmagomedov would matchup with some of the guys in the UFC. Given his dominant skillset on the ground as well as his solid striking game, I think Nurmagomedov is a problem for anyone in the lightweight division regardless of the promotion. Scary to think that he’s only 24 which means he’s only scratching the surface of what he can really do.