Benson Henderson didn’t see this coming, and neither did much of the MMA world.
The former UFC lightweight champion caught a flurry of attacks from Rafael dos Anjos, including a nice left that ended the main event at UFC Fight Night 49 in favor of the Brazilian.
Dos Anjos became the first fighter to finish “Smooth” via strikes, doing it in the opening round.
“No words (can describe this),” dos Anjos said. “I just want to thank Jesus Christ. This victory is for him.”
Dos Anjos (22-7) earned his second straight win since a loss in April to Khabib Nurmagomedov via decision that snapped a five-fight win streak. He now owns four career knockout finishes.
“I was training for everything,” dos Anjos said. “I work a lot on my striking and knew my striking was better. The plan was to be patient through the first round.
“I knew I was the underdog, but I proved who I am. Ben Henderson is a great champion and I respect him a lot, but it is my time.”
Despite earning the win over the consensus No. 1 contender in Henderson, dos Anjos didn’t call for a title shot next. The current champion, Anthony Pettis, is set to meet Gilbert Melendez this winter.
“I just want to do my job,” he said. “I will fight whoever and prepare for everything.”