When news broke soon after UFC 161 that injured featherweight challenger Anthony Pettis was trying to campaign his way into replacing T.J. Grant in the main event at UFC 164, it raised a few eyebrows. After all, Pettis does have a partially torn MCL, and while Pettis thinks he’ll be healed and ready to fight Henderson, Dana White was singing a different tune.
White stated that Pettis would fly to Vegas to get checked out by the UFC medical team because he couldn’t go off the timeframe that a physical therapist laid out for Pettis in Milwaukee. But that’s not stopping the talented Pettis from pressing hard to replace Grant for a grudge rematch in his hometown. He’ll still try to do what he can to get signed up, although that may be a tough task.
There’s no denying that a rematch featuring Henderson vs. Pettis would be a much bigger draw than an event co-headlined by Grant, a fighter who, despite destroying each opponent he’s faced at lightweight, is relatively under the radar. So while the back-and-forth speculation begins, Henderson spoke up to MMA Fighting to say he’ll simply stay out of the drama and fight whoever they put in front of him:
"As I've always said, I don't care who I fight or when I fight them. I'm going to do what I always do, which is continue training to be the best in the world. I'll just fight and let the others worry about talking their way into fights."
A pretty cut-and-dry statement from Henderson, who is staying focused on his ultimate goal of becoming the best fighter the UFC has ever seen. A lofty one to be sure, and one that will be tough to obtain without a single finish in the Octagon as of yet. Henderson can go a long way in cementing his legacy if he can best the man who handed him his last defeat almost three years ago in Pettis.
That’s a fight that will almost inevitably take place at some time. UFC 164 may or may not be the place, but Ben Henderson will be ready regardless of his opponent.