On December 17, when the UFC returns to Sacramento, California, rising welterweight Bryan Barberena will take on highly regarded prospect Colby Covington. If he defeats Covington, he’ll extend his win-streak to three, having taken out Sage Northcutt and Warlley Alves in his last two bouts.
Despite the big stakes of this upcoming bout, Barberena recently took time out of his busy schedule for an interview with BJPenn.com’s Tom Taylor.
Given that Barberena is a long-time friend and training partner of former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson, the conversation eventually ebbed onto Henderson’s next challenge: A title fight with Bellator lightweight champ Michael Chandler. Henderson and Chandler will share the headlining honors of Bellator 165 this Saturday. The card kicks off at 9:00pm on Spike TV.
In advance of his fight with Chandler, odds-makers have pegged Henderson a slight underdog. His status as such can be attributed to his first two fights in the Bellator cage – neither of which went quite the way he planned.
In his first fight under the Bellator banner, Henderson gave up a lopsided unanimous decision to former welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov. Though Henderson defeated former featherweight Patricio “Pitbull” Freire in his second bout with the organization, his victory was the result of an undesirable Pitbull injury.
Given the nature of his last two fights, many members of the MMA community have suggested that the once-great Henderson could be a losing a step. According Barberena, who watches Henderson perform in the gym every day, these skeptics are in for a surprise when the former UFC champ takes on Chandler on Saturday night.
“People that say he’s lost a step obviously don’t know him, and they don’t train with him every single day,” Barberena said of his training partner. “He’s still one of the best in the world. He trains like it, he beats people up in the gym every single day, doing the same things he’s always been doing. He hasn’t lost a step, he hasn’t lost a heartbeat, I mean this guy is a different machine. He’s the best I’ve ever seen.”
Needless to say, Barberena is picking Henderson for the win – though he couldn’t predict how that win would materialize.
“Absolutely, I’m picking Ben. I’ve got Ben winning. I mean I guess I’m not sure exactly how it’ll happen, but I’ve got Ben winning, defeating Chandler, and getting that belt around his waist.”
How do you see Bellator 165’s main event playing out?