Josh Thomson: I Never Felt Intimidated By Ben Henderson, He’s Not Strong


No. 4-ranked UFC lightweight Josh Thomson has gone through some turbulent times as of late. Instead of getting his scheduled UFC on FOX 9 title shot against lightweight champ Anthony Pettis, Thomson was backed into a UFC on FOX 10 headliner against former 155-pound king Benson Henderson after “Showtime” backed out with a torn PCL.

The hits didn’t stop coming for Thomson, who dropped a very controversial split decision to Henderson in a bout many felt he won despite breaking his right hand early on. The injury left “Punk” largely unable to punch or grip throughout the bout, resulting in him being outstruck by a wide margin of 114-33.

But, he was still able to clinch will Henderson and take him down almost at will, even gaining advantageous positions where it looked like Thomson had the opportunity for a fight-ending submission. He never capitalized on that, but he did notice that all of things Henderson is touted for are a bit far-fetched.

“Punk” told Sherdog’s ‘Beatdown Radio’ that “Smooth” isn’t nearly as strong as he’s made out to be:

“Every time he got close to me, I felt like I was able to get to the body lock and just take him down. … All the things that I had in my mind with him being strong, being a hard kicker, all those things, they weren’t true. I put those in my head just from listening to commentary and from other people talking about how hard he kicks or how strong he is and these types of things.

We got in there and locked up the first couple of times and I didn’t feel intimidated at all. … Let me just tell you, he’s not strong. He doesn’t hit hard. He’s not strong. He doesn’t kick hard. All those things — none of those things apply. He’s a good athlete. He’s a good fighter. I’ll give him a lot of credit, but the things that people think hurt didn’t hurt at all.”

Quite the set of polarizing words from the “Punk,” but he does have a good point. If a man with a broken hand who is barely able to close his fingers can repeatedly slam Henderson to the mat, then maybe his vaunted strength and wrestling ability aren’t exactly as astronomical as they’ve been cracked up to be. Looking back at it, if Henderson was truly that dominant of a wrestler or a physical specimen, he probably would have locked up a few more clear-cut decisions (or maybe even a finish or two).

Still, “Punk” trains with notoriously hard-nosed wrestlers like UFC heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez, Daniel Cormier, and Jon Fitch at American Kickboxing Academy, so his view of a strong wrestler is a bit skewed.

Either way, it’s obvious that the No. 1-ranked Henderson didn’t do nearly enough to lock up another shot at the belt against Thomson. With such a noted striking advantage, you’d think he would have been able to do some damage on an injured opponent.

Maybe his punching power isn’t all that dangerous as Thomson said, or maybe the “Punk” is still bitter at his razor-thin loss. Do you think there is truth to Thomson’s words, or is it just a case of sour grapes?

Photo: David Banks for USA TODAY Sports

  • I'm not really surprised by this. During the fight I was thinking this everytime they clinched that Thomson looked stronger with his wrestling and clinch. Not just technically but physically too. Once he started taking him down with his injured hand it kind of solidified it to me. I don't think Bendo really landed any great kicks either. Overall it was a terrible performance for Bendo.

    • It was a terrible performance by Bendo and Josh has had the easiest version of him yet. Benson is not strong or dangerous until he feels threatened and it is rarely happening these days. He seems to fall into a lull and just keep pace at his opponents level. When Josh was hurt Bensons performance dropped as well. Maybe Benson is a MMA counter comparable to card counting and just keeps his math up to date so he can cruise when the going gets easier. Benson didn't barely even defend takedowns and rarely does he. He throws kicks even immediately after he has had his foot caught or been taken down which is not what other fighters do. I think Ben is better than Josh and almost anybody at 155 but he needs to light a fire in himself to not only win but dominate like he should be. Post belt, Benson was probably the most feared 155er in the world.

      • I agree Bendo is better than Josh and almost any other 155LB fighter. I also agree he's been coasting to these boring UD wins. I agree he keeps up right about with his opponent. I just feel like if the Pettis fight wasn't enough to like the fire I don't know where it will come from. I'd love to see the Bendo of WEC but he doesn't seem to be anywhere around.

        • Thats true.

        • OH but Pettis did light the fire in his eyes in the second fight. You can tell Benson was actually IMO trying to KO Pettis cuz he was going more agressive then iv ever seen him go. Even in the rematch with Frankie, I still think he lost. Anyways Pettis extinguished the fire in Benson with that slick sub. Aldo said it best though, Its hard to KO someone now then b4 cuz Now people know you and study u more.

    • The bottom line is…the dude definitely won the fight. He never hurt you, but he beat you…clearly. End of.

  • Ivy

    Josh looked great in that fight, but for his hand I believe he would have taken the UD, but in no way did Bendo look (not) strong either…guess Josh is just a beast.

  • I didn't expect Josh to be able to take Bendo down so easily. Can't wait to see him back in the octagon.

    • Why everyone takes him down as he feeds them to them.