EXCLUSIVE | Benson Henderson argues fighters should have chance to research judges before fights

Former UFC lightweight champ and current Bellator lightweight contender Benson Henderson has been in some very close fights over the course of his illustrious career. Sometimes, the judges have scored these razor-close fights in his favor. Other times, they haven’t…

Whatever the case, Henderson feels that fighters should be notified which judges will be overseeing their fights well ahead of time, so they can prepare and fight according to the preferences of those judges.

“It’s a hard job,” Henderson said of MMA judging on the latest stacked episode of BJ Penn Radio. “It is a hard job to be a judge, there’s so many different things that go into judging. You can sit right next to somebody, and they see something completely different than you, like ‘oh that was a sweet take down,’ [and] ‘oh yeah the guy got taken down, but [he] popped up right away and there was no damage done.’

“What do [judges] give weight to?” he continued. “As a whole I think you could possibly help if you give fighters a heads up on who’s going to judge their fight, and they can go back and look at that judges history.”

Henderson then gave a few hypothetical examples:

“[It would help to know] ‘oh this judge is a boxing judge.’ He had the Robbie Lawler and Carlos Condit fight going this direction…

“This judge is a really good-a really big jiu-jitsu fan and he gives a lot of weight to the jiu-jitsu guys who just kinda ya know, get on top and play a top heavy game or he gives weight to fighters who are on bottom and are really active in their guard.

“One judge weighs a jab very heavily. He loves a jab, [he’s a] traditional boxer. ‘Oh yeah, the jab is the most important punch in the game and jab this, jab that…’ And the other judge almost doesn’t count jabs at all. Like ‘oh those are so easy, there’s no damage on them. Jabs don’t do anything.’ But he loves body shots…

“As long as you give fighters a heads up [about their judges], I think that could maybe help the sport. [It would help] the fighters realize what they need to do with the judges cause there’s criteria—there’s official criteria on board for judges—but every judge weighs things differently.”

All that being said, Benson Henderson harbors no ill will toward MMA judges. He understands they’re just doing their best, like he is.

“I don’t think that any judges are necessarily like, bad,” he said. “I truly think that most of the judges that I talk to, most of the judges that I have had interactions with, they’re trying to do their best job. They’re trying to do their job as well as I’m trying to do my job.”

Benson Henderson will next compete in Budapest, Hungary on April 6, when he will battle fellow UFC veteran Roger Huerta in the main event of Bellator 196.

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 3/29/2018.