Exclusive: John Crouch Talks to BJPenn.Com Radio about Benson Henderson vs. Nate Diaz
The main event of UFC on Fox 5 features two of the most exciting fighters in the world of mixed martial arts. This Saturday night in Seattle UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson will attempt to defend his title against Cesar Gracie student, Nate Diaz. Ever since this match-up was announced fans, trainers, pundits and fighters alike have been buzzing with excitement over the prospect of how this one will go down.
Henderson has been on quite the roll since losing his WEC Lightweight Championship to Anthony Pettis at WEC 53 in December of 2010. The loss may have hurt him initially, but he has clearly used it to his advantage and sharpened up his overall game. His march to the UFC title hasn’t been any easy one and defending it against Diaz will be his most difficult task yet, but his trainer, friend and business partner at The MMA Lab is quite confident he will still be champion when it’s all said and done.
“The camp has been good, mostly the same old stuff,” Crouch told BJPenn.Com. “We’ve switched a few things up to try and keep Ben fresher. Our last camp we trained in a higher altitude and had a really hard camp for Frankie Edgar and I think we may have overdid it a little bit. We’re working hard, but we’re also working a little bit smarter too. Ben’s like all the guys at the top of the sport he’s always trying to improve and each time you see those guys they are always trying to be the best version of themselves.”
Henderson and Crouch seem like they have been working together far longer than they really have. If you ask either man they will both tell you how much admiration and respect they have for one another. Things have come full circle for these guys as Henderson was helping a former student of Crouch’s prepare for the same man Henderson is training for today.
“We’ve been together almost six years now, I was teaching in Denver and one of my students, Alvin Robinson was fighting in the UFC at the time,” Crouch stated. “Ben had just graduated from college in Nebraska and came down and wanted to start fighting. Interestingly enough he was Alvin’s training partner for his bout with Nate Diaz. We moved down to Arizona and Ben wanted to give it a shot so he came along.”
After preparing for Edgar for the better part of a year, Crouch admitted it will be nice to shift the focus on to another competitor. Diaz is as hot as any other fighter in the sport right now and Henderson will have to be at the top of his game if he expects to have positive results.
“Frankie’s great, he is so fast and hard to catch and his footwork is so good,” offered Crouch. “There’s going to be like five or six skirmishes a round with Edgar. It gets frustrating for me; I’d rather get in there and get it done. It’s hard to fight Frankie, we appreciate those fights, he’s great and he’s awesome, but I’m so happy to fight somebody that’s going to be coming forward and trying to finish the fight. I’m really psyched; it’s fits with Benson’s style. He likes to get in there and mix it up more too so I think Diaz will make for a super entertaining fight.”
Because Henderson has fought the best fighters in the lightweight division, finishes are tough to come by, but Crouch is completely confident in what Henderson can do and that includes having the ability to finish Diaz. Crouch expects Diaz to be more aggressive which makes the percentage of the fight getting finished that much greater. He also believes the Gracie camp doesn’t get the recognition it deserves and knows full well just what they are capable of come fight night.
“I have complete confidence in Benson; we’ve never gone into a fight where I thought we were going to lose, Crouch said. “I totally believe Ben can finish the fight with that being said, Nate Diaz and Cesar Gracie probably believe the same thing. Nate deserves this shot, that camp is severely underrated. Because they talk a little bit doesn’t hide the fact that they may be the best camp in the country if not the world. Their guys are tough, they always scrap and they are good everywhere. They have heart and I think my favorite part about them is their sense of team and their sense of community within their school. I am a huge fan of Cesar Gracie. With that being said we’re going to win on December 8th.”
The respect from Gracie is mutual as he told us on BJPenn.Com Radio two weeks ago. Gracie sees two great lightweights with similar goals and he fully expects this one to be nothing short of a dogfight.
“I’d rather have a quick finish if you guys wouldn’t mind,” laughed Crouch. “Those fights of the year make me old! I agree with Cesar, he has seen the birth of our sport and where it started. He definitely knows fighters and the sport really well. I agree with him, there is no quit in either one of these guys, they won’t stop and they are both tough as heck. I think it’s going to be a great fight and I’m really excited for it.”