Benson Henderson’s Bellator debut went about poorly as it could have.
The former UFC lightweight champion was defeated by Andrey Koreshkov at Bellator 153, falling via unanimous decision in a 50-45 blowout on all three scorecards.
Koreshkov retained his Bellator welterweight title, overpowering and outstriking the smaller Henderson throughout.
Henderson worked cautiously through the first minutes of his post-Zuffa career, working to stay on the outside and keep Koreshkov at range. While Henderson was able to stay mostly away, Koreshkov was able to score with a variety of leg and body kicks. When Koreshkov started to land a bit cleaner, Henderson began reaching for a few takedowns, but to no avail. Koreshkov landed a massive knee at the end of the round, but couldn’t get a finish after sending Henderson to the canvas.
In the second, Koreshkov continued to set the pace, keeping Henderson near the cage and continuing to land power shots. When Koreshkov closed the distance, Henderson unsuccessfully attempted to bring the fight to the ground. Henderson was more successful as the frame continued, but he was unable to cause any damage through two rounds.
The third round brought much of the same, but about one minute in, Henderson sunk in for a takedown against the fence and refused to let go. Koreshkov landed plenty of strikes to Henderson’s head while they battled, but Henderson continued to grind. After a few minutes, Koreshkov created some space and broke free, going right back to work with body and leg kicks.
The fourth round was just as lopsided as Henderson’s only hope was a takedown with three minutes remaining. With a minute left in the round, Henderson was sent to the canvas again by another huge Koreshkov right hand.
With five minutes remaining, Henderson looked for a big shot, aiming for big head and body kicks early. He was slightly more successful, but it was never enough to turn the tide as Koreshkov continued to deliver damage to complete the blowout.