Without a finish in eight UFC wins, former lightweight champion Benson Henderson doesn’t exactly fit the bill of a No. 1-ranked contender in a stacked division.

Last seen taking a highly controversial split decision over Josh “Punk” Thomson at UFC on FOX 10 in January, Henderson won yet another debatable split decision that prompted Dana White to label him “not a finisher.”

But instead of lashing out at his detractors, Henderson is going to get back to work doing what he does best. Hoping to return to the cage in May, Henderson is willing to take a tough fight that probably won’t get him his title shot. Speaking to Ariel Helwani on “UFC Tonight,” Henderson cited a bout with an opponent you probably wouldn’t have guessed:

“I spoke to him today, and he said, “Looking at the rankings and who’s available, the only guy that really makes sense in Rustam Khabilov.” And Khabilov actually called him out a couple of weeks ago. And this is very interesting because, according to the UFC rankings, Henderson is ranked No. 1; Khabilov is ranked No. 14. And he said, “If that’s the only guy that makes sense, he’ll do just fine.” That’s what he told me.

He said he’d like to return around May or so, and I think he should be commended with a lot of guys saying, you know, this guy isn’t ranked high enough or whatnot, Benson Henderson is saying if that’s the best guy out there, I’ll fight him.”

Indeed Henderson deserves respect for requesting a high-risk fight with the dangerous Khabilov. With the lightweight title currently on hiatus as champion Anthony “ShowTime” Pettis heals from a torn PCL before he returns to face Gilbert Melendez after the two coach TUF 20, all Henderson can do to further is case is keep winning.

He runs the risk of losing his lofty ranking in the process, but he’s miles away from getting another title shot anyway.

The bottom line is if Henderson wants to get back to fighting for the belt after his alarming first round submission loss to Pettis at last August’s UFC 164, he’s going to have to start winning some bouts in convincing fashion. Will that trend begin soon against “The Tiger”?

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