Former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson will attempt to get back on track towards another title shot when he faces off with Josh “Punk” Thomson in the main event of tonight’s UFC on FOX 10 from the United Center in Chicago, Illinois.
Henderson famously lost the belt at last August’s UFC 164, succumbing to a first round armbar from his arch nemesis Anthony “Showtime” Pettis. The loss was his second to Pettis in three years, with the two defeats marking the only losses in Henderson’s last 19 fights. His only other loss came in his third MMA fight, so you can see why Pettis has been labeled as the otherwise dominant “Smooth’s” kryptonite of sorts.
It’s going to take a ton of work to convince Dana White and company to give him another shot at “Showtime’s” gold. That work starts tonight against Thomson, and Henderson has been going through the motions of the media blitz attached to a big UFC on FOX card.
One highly unexpected interview came yesterday, however, and it was one where we saw the champ himself interview his longtime foe Henderson. Let’s just say the interview from FOX Sports was more than a little awkward:
Pettis seemed to stumble on his words a bit when he began asking “Smooth” about his gameplan for Thomson, but it’s not that he’s scared of Henderson. He may have just been surprised that he found himself in such a strange media engagement sitting side-by-side with his mortal enemy. But Henderson was steadfast, remaining focused on the task at hand:
“For this time, going against Josh, because he’s such a veteran, he’s seen everything, he’s been fighting forever now. He’s not only fought a who’s-who of people inside the cage, but he’s trained with a who’s who. There’s not going to be anything that surprises him. He’s not going to be surprised by a new kick this, a new punch setup, he’s seen everything, so the idea is just to go in there and keep him on his heels, keep him guessing. He’s seen it all, but to mix it up. Keep him guessing as to what’s gonna come next. ‘Oh, is it gonna be a punch, is it gonna be a kick, is it gonna be a takedown? I don’t know what’s coming next.’ That’s the idea when we face off against Josh.”
Henderson also noted with certainty that he would be dancing with Pettis at least one more time, and that’s something that could definitely happen if “Smooth” puts Thomson away convincingly. There aren’t too many fights outside of a title shot that make sense for Henderson if he destroys “Punk.”
With “Showtime” on the shelf with knee surgery tentatively until July (and that could be optimistic), Henderson may have to fight and beat another top contender before he gets a trilogy match with Pettis. With Gilbert Melendez currently without a fight, a rematch with “El Nino” could be a great fight if “Smooth” wins in Chicago tonight.
On the other hand, after being originally scheduled to fight for the belt at UFC on FOX 9 last December, Thomson can immediately book himself for a shot at the belt with a big victory tonight. Will he throw a wrench in “Smooth’s” plans and land a second proposed fight against Pettis?