Koreshkov Shocks at Bellator 153 in Henderson’s Debut

“One of the most anticipated main events in Bellator history” as claimed by commentator Sean Grande ended with the closest thing to a pure dismantling of former UFC Lightweight champion “Smooth” Benson Henderson.

The former champ had been on the biggest stage of them all and had gone 2-1 at 170 pounds before entering Bellator with one of those victories coming by way of submission (Rear-Naked Choke.) That provided a perfect scenario for defending Bellator Welterweight top dog Andrey “Spartan” Koreshkov–sit back while the media (InsideSTL included) talk, coil up in silence, and strike.

Considered the underdog in his first defense of the belt, Koreshkov uses the first minute to find just how close he can get to Henderson without getting popped. “Smooth keeps him at bay with a combo of attempt leg and sidekicks, but the Russian is clearly the aggressor as Henderson continually is moved back.

Koreshkov lands a kick flush but it Henderson is still standing as the impact echoes throughout the arena. A right hand sends the challenger to the canvas briefly. A kick to the ribs by Koreshkov has the crowd in awe. With under two minutes before the first break, it’s evident that the ground game will take a back seat in this contest.

Color commentator Jimmy Smith notices a straight right punch to the liver, but the promotional newcomer remains upright. He returns to the sidekick again to create distance but is caught with a knee.

Henderson scrambles away after another high kick attempt by the champion as Grande is calling for him to go to “Plan B” with the bout still only in the first round.

Koreshkov fails to connect with a flying knee as Henderson’s back is against the fence.He resets after another straight right and brings the fans to their feet with a flying knee that finds the mark, clearly taking the first.

A clipping spinning head kick from Koreshkov forces Henderson to dive for a takedown with a minute of the second already gone.

“Spartan” goes to the well again with a knee but whiffs. Henders follows up with a right in the clinch but seems to be finding few openings to this point. Another head kick puts the American ever more behind in points.

Koreshkov stuffs a takedown, pausing before throwing a right uppercut. They rise and Koreshkov shakes off a left easily. Henderson goes for a spinning head kick as well, but gets nothing but a crowd reaction. A deep thud is heard after the champ’s kneecap gets reaquainted with the UFC vet’s ribs before Round 3.

A right gives him a 2-0 lead in the eyes of many while a roar rises from the stands for the underdog to kick off the third. Despite being very experienced, Henderson looks like he just can’t find the missing piece to the puzzle that is his opponent.

With sixty seconds evaporated of the clock Koreshkov charges Henderson with a left hook that lands flush. Another defensive takedown is avoided as Henderson becomes the victim of lethal elbows to the side of the head.

There are almost no positives to speak of from the current position Henderson has found himself in as the clock continues to run out and he just holds on to his man. Impressively though, he lands an elbow from in tight even with

Koreshkov controlling his head and upper torso.

Koreshkov spins out now and has Henderson against the cage again. He in prime position for…you guessed it: a knee to the ribs (it originally looked questionable, possibly a knee to the head of a grounded opponent–Henderson’s other knee was firmly on the canvas–but referee “Big John” McCarthy did not stop the contest.)

A right uppercut by Koreshkov lands while on the mat. The only major talking point for the commentary team seems to be the heart of the debutee. A right spinning head kick connects with Henderson’s temple as this one-sided affair heads to the championship rounds.

Henderson is looking up at his dance partner early in the forth. He throws an upkick and gets nothing before returning to a standing position. Koreshkov misses with a Superman punch but does back Henderson up against the fence.

They eventually trade places, but Koreshkov has head control. McCarthy warns them both to work and things finally change from that position with roughly two minutes to go in the frame. The duo maintain distance from then on as this comes down to the last five minutes.

Henderson’s corner seems resigned to defeat with a surprise finish being the only way this can end well. “We’re down a lot.”

The combatants hug to begin the fifth as Henderson’s rough night is just about to come to a close.

The “cardio dynamo” that is Henderson throws kicks almost exclusively for a near minute (really his only offense all night.) A returning right leg kick from Koreshkov sends Henderson sprawling with no result. They square up and Koreshkov is money with a back kick, but slips following the connection.

Now is Henderson’s chance (or so it seemed.) In a flash the titleholder is up. Koreshkov continued to deny any opportunities that Henderson might have had and time ran out after a plethora of sprawls and kicks that sealed the deal for the retaining champion.

Koreshkov puts the nail in the proverbial coffin with a series of blows that included a right spinning backfist along with an immediate right hook to the midsection that floored Henderson in the final seconds.

From there he was simply smothered.

Winner: [C] Andrey Koreshkov via Unanimous Decision (50-45 all)