The UFC lightweight title is currently scheduled to be defended in December when Anthony Pettis faces Gilbert Melendez after the two coach on The Ultimate Fighter 20.
Saturday night, former champion Benson Henderson served notice that he will pick off all other contenders to remain in that next position, submitting Rustam Khabilov in the main event of UFC Fight Night 42.
Henderson (21-3) earned his second straight win of the year, having also downed Josh Thomson in January. The stoppage victory was his first since a 2010 submission win vs. Donald Cerrone in the WEC.
“I put more pressure on myself than anyone ever realizes,” Henderson said. “I expect to succeed. I expect to finish every fight. I bust my butt to make sure that happens.”
Henderson took offense to some reports, as he screamed at media row after getting the victory over Khabilov.
“I put my heart and soul, not just into this cage, every single day in practice,” he said. “I don’t do a lot of talking. I talk in (the cage).”
With Pettis-Melendez set, “Smooth” made sure to tell anyone else looking to make a name for themselves to search him out.
“Whoever you all want to see me fight next,” he said. “Anybody who wants to fight for the belt, come see me.”
For Khabilov, the loss was his first since a 2011 split decision defeat. He is now 17-2 overall and 3-1 with the UFC.
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