Benson Henderson certainly turned a few heads with his UFC on Fox 10 performance against Josh Thomson, but not for the right reasons. The former Lightweight champion has been criticized for his ‘boring’ style, and accused of point fighting as opposed to trying to win with a finish.
There is nothing illegal about how ‘Smooth’ chooses to fight, so why the backlash in recent times? Unfortunately for Henderson, he fell three places in the pound-for-pound rankings in the wake of his split decision win against ‘The Punk’. So it seems the negativity doesn’t stop with just the fans.
There is clearly something about a guy who wins razor tight decisions over a prolonged period of time that agitates people. UFC President Dana White was quick to squash any possibility of a title shot for Bendo after his win over Thomson, and the outrage from MMA fans is unparalleled.
Does he deserve the drop in the p4p rankings after a win? Probably not, but I’m sure it wouldn’t have happened if he pulled the trigger against the injured Thomson at Fox 10. One fighter that ‘Smooth’ has been compared to in recent times is former Welterweight boss Georges-St Pierre. Although GSP fought to decisions very often, they were also mainly one-sided affairs (barring UFC 167).
During his UFC tenure, Henderson has won eight fights; all by decision, three of which were razor tight splits. The contrast to his four win/three finish record in the WEC is baffling. In fact, during his first 14 fights only two were won by decision, which adds even more to the frustration about his current style.
So the criticism of Bendo is now affecting his standings in the ranking (albeit only the pound-for-pound), but its only a matter of time before fans and the UFC lose interest in him all together. That is not a good position to be in; just ask Yushin Okami or Jon Fitch. So where does ‘Smooth’ go from here? Well his coach John Crouch believes the criticism is unfounded:
"In my mind, [Thomson] was definitely playing more of a points game than we were. He was trying to win the rounds. He was trying to win according to the judges' scorecard," Crouch said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour.
"I honestly, I don't understand the uproar. I thought we won the fight clearly. We lost the first (round). After that, Josh got some great takedowns, he's really tricky in the clinch, he's got some great trips and he's got some really great highlights against Gilbert (Melendez) with those trips. But he didn't do anything. I don't feel like Josh ever tried to finish the fight, not once."
Well the obvious answer is do not lose your next bout, because that could essentially be your walking papers. Secondly, finish, or at least try to finish a fight-there is no better way of silencing doubters than winning in convincing fashion. Whatever happened to the old Henderson, the WEC Henderson, needs to be reversed.
I don’t know if he got lost during his time as UFC champion, and tried too hard to do just about enough to win, but it seems that even winning with his current style is doing him absolutely no favors. The bottom line is Henderson should go balls to the wall in his next outing, which is rumoured to be a rematch against Gilbert Melendez. Honestly, I think an exciting loss would put ‘Smooth’ in better standing than another snoozefest decision win.