Exclusive (Part 2): Benson Henderson Talks Being Champ, His Goals And The Bulls-Eye On His Back | UFC NEWS
Teammate and former opponent Jamie Varner has made his way back to the UFC and put forth two impressive performances. He was brought in as a late replacement for Evan Dunham at UFC 146 against the previously undefeated Edson Barboza and scored a first round TKO. He then faced Joe Lauzon at UFC on Fox 4 again as an injury replacement and although he lost via 3rd round submission, his performance earned him an additional $50k for the Fight of the Night bonus.
“I’m so happy for him, he’s been putting in so much hard work,” Henderson said proudly. “He went through a little bit of a rough patch, but his skills were always there as evidenced by his last two fights. He seems to be in a happy place and he’s back at it, he’s doing great because mentally he’s much happier than he was before. He has all the physical tools to be successful, his boxing is crisp, his wrestling is great and his BJJ is coming along. When he came to the Lab to train, John Crouch was able to calm him down and show him the sport can be fun again.”
Always known as one of the hardest workers in mixed martial arts, Henderson’s desire to be the best and his dedication to improving day in and day out has paid off in more ways than one. Never one to shy away from pressure, Henderson is relishing in the fact that there will never be a shortage of opponents looking to remove him from the top of the mountain. The way he looks at it, the tougher the competition, the better fighter he will become.
“It’s nice, I’m not going to lie, I appreciate where I’m at right now,” said the 28-year-old Colorado native. “Life is strange, you never know what’s going to happen from one day to the next. Things can change in a blink of an eye. It’s especially satisfying because I came into the UFC off of a loss in my last fight in the WEC. The winner of the fight with Pettis was going to get a title shot and to lose that opportunity hurt, but that loss actually helped me. I used that loss to help me mature and become more focused and figure out what I needed to do inside the Octagon to become a better fighter.”
“Here we are a couple of years later and I have the UFC belt now. I like having the bulls-eye on my back and knowing that there’s a ton of guys in the 155lb. division, who are the best fighters on the planet, waking up in the morning and have me as their goal. I like knowing that these guys are pushing themselves to try and get what I have, it makes me want to keep what I have all that much more.”
Henderson has received an unfair amount of criticism because of a comment he made not too long ago. He had stated that one of his goals was to break Anderson Silva’s record of 10 title defenses. Having goals is something that Henderson refuses to apologize for and if people can’t understand that then that’s on them.
“There are negative people in every facet in life who want to bash people for having goals,” Henderson said. “I made one of my goals to beat Anderson Silva’s record and people for whatever reason take it the wrong way and feel like it’s a personal attack on them. Life is all about setting goals and you should set those goals high. If you wanto be a champion in wrestling don’t be a one time state champion, be a three time state champion. Don’t let anyone tell you, you can’t get it or you’re silly for trying, set those goals high.”
Besides Henderon’s bout with Diaz, the UFC has two other big lightweight bouts on the horizon. Gray Maynard, a two-time lightweight title challenger will face Joe Lauzon at UFC 155 in December and Donald Cerrone, a man Henderson has defeated twice while they were in the WEC will face the last man to beat him, Anthony Pettis sometime in 2013.
“I think of all the fighters at 155 everyone seems to forget about Gray,” explained Henderson. “He’s lost to one person and that loss was to Frankie Edgar. Maynard is tough, he is very skilled and he’s a big lightweight. His fight with Lauzon should be a great scrap, I’m a big fan of Joe as well. He’s tough, he’s durable and he hangs in there. His jiu-jitsu is very methodical, he’ll wear you out and next thing you know he’s got you in an armbar or a choke. Those two will definitely put on a great fight.”
“Pettis and Cerrone are going to get after it, I’m really excited to watch them fight. I don’t know who’s going to win, but I guess I’ll go with my boy Cerrone. I know they’ve been talking a lot and you know when two guys are talking just to hype the fight, these two really don’t like one another. Cerrone seems to have hit his stride again after the Nate Diaz loss and Pettis is coming off of shoulder surgery so I’m not sure how long the recovery is for him. Pettis is a tough fighter, he’s a gamer and he’s very explosive. It’ll be interesting to see how that match-up goes.”
Cerrone has certainly made a big splash since coming over to the UFC. Cowboy has compiled an impressive 6-1 record inside the Octagon with two wins coming by way of knockout and two via submission. If Henderson gets by Diaz and Cerrone defeats Pettis there is a very real possibility the UFC could match the pair up for the third time. Their first bout at WEC 43 in 2009 was named the Sherdog Fight of the Year. The rematch at WEC 48 ended rather quickly when Henderson choked Cerrone out just 1:57 into the first round. With that being said, Henderson would welcome a third fight and believes fans would want to see it too.
“I think the fans could definitely get into another fight between The Cowboy and I,” Henderson stated. “It all depends on how it plays out and how well it’s built up. That first was fight was pretty freaking close! The judges gave it to me, I’ll definitely take it. The second one went my way, but I’m definitely not sleeping on Cowboy. I know how good he truly is and even though we’re friends I know he’ll have no problem at all punching me in my face as hard as he can. If we do happen to go at it again you better believe there’s going to be fireworks.”