Henderson has suffered an injury, forcing him to withdraw from the Bellator Japan card.
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) December 5, 2019
Benson Henderson and Michael Chandler first collided at Bellator 165 in 2016. Chandler won the pair’s five-round thriller by split decision and successfully defended his Bellator lightweight title in the process.
Henderson lost again in his next bout, giving up a decision against Patricky “Pitbull” Freire. After these back-to-back losses, he has successfully rebounded and is riding a four-fight streak with wins over Roger Huerta, Saad Awad, Adam Piccolotti and Myles Jury. Meanwhile, Chandler has amassed a 2-3 fight record since his 2016 win against Henderson, losing to Brent Primus and Patricio “Pitbull” Freire, and beating Goiti Yamauchi, Brandon Girtz, and Primus.
While this Henderson vs. Chandler rematch has been delayed, the good news is that Bellator has found a compelling replacement opponent for the latter.
Chandler will now be meeting Sidney Outlaw at Bellator Japan.
The 27-year-old Outlaw has tallied nine consecutive wins, including a decision win over Michael Cora on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series and a decision win over Roger Huerta in November Bellator debut. He has not lost since 2016, when he was defeated by UFC lightweight contender Gregor Gillespie.
While Outlaw is a solid prospect, he’s likely to be a huge underdog in this fight with the former champion Chandler. If he pulls off the upset, however, he’ll instantly stand out amongst Bellator’s top lightweights, and perhaps even earn himself a fight with the Benson Henderson when he’s healthy enough to fight again.
The Bellator Japan card goes down on December 29 and will be headlined by a heavyweight fight between MMA legends Fedor Emelianenko and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. The bout will mark Fedor’s final fight in Japan, where the golden days of his career occurred.
This article first appeared on BJPENN.com on 12/5/2019.