Cerrone, who fought and won fifteen days ago at UFC 182 on Jan. 3, stepped into the co-main event on short notice after Henderson’s original opponent, Eddie Alvarez, was forced out of the fight due to illness.
Coming off the first knockout loss of his career to Rafael dos Anjos in his last outing, Henderson looked tentative in the opening moments of the fight. Cerrone established his jab while the former champion landed a variety of kicks to Cerrone’s body and legs. The opening round was competitive and difficult to score.
Henderson continued to utilize kicks in the second frame. He delivered side kicks to Cerrone’s lead leg and mixed up his attack with knees and punches. Cerrone secured a takedown late in the round, but was unable to inflict damage before Henderson worked his way back to his feet. The second stanza was also close, but it appeared that Henderson was outworking Cerrone.
Cerrone’s coach, Greg Jackson, urged his fighter to pick up the pace between rounds. Cerrone responded by moving forward. Henderson landed a head kick that had Cerrone looking to get the fight to the ground. Cerrone ended the round by leaping in with a knee and landing a combination, but it appeared that Henderson had done enough. The judges did not agree.
As the fighters stood in the middle of the octagon at the TD Garden awaiting the judges’ decision, Henderson was confident his hand would be raised. Shock and disbelief came across his face as Cerrone was announced as the winning by unanimous decision.
“It was a tough fight. I couldn’t unload like I wanted to because the dude’s a stud. He’s been at the top of the game. My hats off to the guy,” said Cerrone following the fight.
“I took him down in the second round. I felt that was good. Only the judges know. The only thing I can do is fight. Win or lose, I’m here every damn time,” he said when asked if he felt that he had won the fight.
“It is what it is,” said the disappointed Henderson. “You’ve got to go back. You’ve got to accept it. You’ve got to man up and move on.”
The win extended Cerrone’s winning streak to seven consecutive fights. For Henderson, it was the first time the 31-year-old has suffered back-to-back losses in his nine-year mixed martial arts career.
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