Benson Henderson – Where is the Love?
By Christopher Jester
Benson Henderson is a tough nut to crack. Despite defeating some of the best lightweights in the world, he still has not received the credit that he deserves. A lot of that comes from his style. While he is not flashy, he is a consistent athlete who brings a well-polished game plan into the Octagon for each of his performances. Even with that in mind, his victories over Frankie Edgar (twice), Nate Diaz, Gilbert Melendez, and more – people still feel the need to insist that Henderson is simply not the best at 155 lbs.
A fighter who often goes to decisions, Henderson has a lot of critics. Although this is true, it is unmerited. Is he the most exciting fighter in the division? Perhaps not, but there is no denying him of his place in the UFC and the record he is so close to beating. Believe it or not, Benson Henderson is one fight away from shattering BJ Penn’s number of lightweight title defenses. Tied at the record of three, Henderson only needs to defend his title one more time to beat the record of who many consider was the best lightweight of all time in BJ Penn.
Whether that is saying a lot or saying nothing at all, it will depend on the person asked. BJ Penn dominated the lightweight division at a time when it was beginning to grow into the toughest division in the UFC. When Frankie Edgar came along and defeated BJ Penn, the division had flourished into a heap of competitive nature. Insert the former WEC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson into the mix. Besting the likes of MarK Bocek, Jim Miller, and Clay Guida before earning his title shot against Frankie Edgar, Henderson had already beaten a few of the best lightweights in the UFC.
His title defenses have been nothing short of mired with controversy. Both of his victories over Frankie Edgar were deemed very close by fans. All four of his title defenses have gone to the judges’ scorecards, with two of those victories by split decision. This leaves his only obvious decision in the crushing one-sided victory over Nate Diaz.
So why is there not much love for Benson Henderson? Decisions, decisions, decisions, decisions. It can be the only detriment to what has been a resume chalked with top-tier names. Especially if we think back to last year when nearly everyone in the media was proclaiming him the Fighter of the Year after ending 2012 with an amazing overwhelming performance over Diaz. So what happened? Where did it go all wrong? Another close decision with Gilbert Melendez happened.
The problem is that Henderson faces very few problems inside of the Octagon. In most fights it almost looks like he is on cruise control. Yet, he still comes out his fights by going to decisions and those decisions likely close with fans split down the middle on who won. It is tearing up his reputation, and proclaiming him as a decision fighter. It has been three years since Benson Henderson finished a fight. That last finishing effort was against Donald Cerrone back in the WEC.
With that being said, another champion has also faced this same criticism and is still endeared by many fans. Georges St. Pierre has not finished a fight since 2009, yet he is still one of the most popular fighters in the UFC. While it is blatantly obvious that we can separate the merits of each champion, but can we truly dismiss the dominance of these two fighters just because they go to the decision? Does it not take two to tango?
Benson Henderson may very well be on his way to becoming the governing force in the UFC’s lightweight division. But he still has his toughest test to date coming August 31st at UFC 164. Anthony Pettis, the last man to defeat Henderson, is getting a title shot that could potentially ruin Henderson’s title run and his opportunity to dethrone Penn’s record. Should Henderson defeat Pettis and avenge his last loss, could this not help his stature as the best lightweight in the world? It could and likely will help establish to many that this is the heralding of a new king of lightweights. However, if he would lose, it would incline that Pettis simply has Henderson’s number and that Henderson was not ready to take the mantle as the best lightweight in the UFC. Tune in Saturday night for the answer…
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka
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