When Benson Henderson won the WEC lightweight title, he could walk down the street and the average person wouldn’t know who he was. Then, he became the guy that ate the “Showtime” kick when Anthony Pettis pulled off the miraculous move that stretched across sports websites across the globe. Still, the casual fight fan didn’t know who Benson Henderson was. He’s currently on a five fight winning streak since coming over to the UFC and holds the UFC lightweight title. But on the UFC on Fox 5 media conference call, the champ was only asked two questions while guys like BJ Penn and Rory MacDonald dominated the conversation.
What gives? Does it bother the champion who is set to defend his title against Nate Diaz on December 8?
“It’s a process,” Henderson said in regards to gaining more recognition in the mainstream. “You got to lay the groundwork, stay on that grind, stay at it and then eventually you get those big huge national deals with national TV stations that are seen worldwide. But it’s just a matter of staying on the grind, keep doing what I’m doing and eventually if I keep on winning and keep putting the work in, then everything else falls in to place.”
Grinding is exactly what Henderson is doing. After suffering the loss to Pettis in the last fight in the WEC era, Henderson retooled and came back better than ever. Victories over Mark Bocek, Jim Miller and Clay Guida gave him an opportunity at the lightweight title against Frankie Edgar and he capitalized on the chance to become the new lightweight champion. A rematch yielded the same result, albeit even closer then their first encounter and now Henderson is set to take on Diaz in the main event of a stacked free card on Fox.
Henderson wants to put on a dominant performance but he won’t go as far as to promise a knockout. For him, that would be foolish against a top guy like Diaz. As a matter of fact, he’ll take the ‘W’ any way that he can.
“It’d be kind of ineffective I think if I just said ‘oh yeah, I’m going there, I’m going to knock out Nate Diaz, no problem,'” Henderson said. “I’m not going to say that. Nate Diaz is tough. He’s darn tough. And I’m going to go out there and do my best and try to get my hand raised any way possible. “I’m trying to get my hand raised however I can get it. If he slips on a banana peel, I’ll take it. If it’s a decisive victory, I’ll take it.”
The champ is well aware with what is at stake. It’s not just about retaining his title, it’s about making sure everyone knows who Benson Henderson is.
“If I want to be one of the great flyweights of all time, I have huge shoes to fill. And I’m excited to get that chance.”