A pivotal lightweight scrap is supposedly close to getting booked for the featured bout of July 12’s The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 21 Finale from Florida.
Sources informed MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani that former champion Benson Henderson has been targeted to headline the event against no. 6-ranked Michael “The Menace” Johnson.
A venue for the card has not been decided as of yet. The event will feature the finals of the groundbreaking new TUF 21, which pits members of rival Florida gyms American Top Team (ATT) and the Blackzilians against each other. The new season debuts a week from today (Wed., April 22, 2015) on FOX Sports 1.
After dropping two straight bouts at lightweight, Henderson recently got back on track in his welterweight debut at Feb. 14’s UFC Fight Night 60 from Colorado by submitting hyped prospect Brandon Thatch in the fourth round. “Smooth” was rumored to be staying at welterweight, and even offered to face Jorge Masvidal on short notice at April 25’s depleted UFC 186 card from Montreal.
But a bout with Johnson, the surging Blackzilian who has won four straight fights in the Octagon, is simply too good to pass up.
“The Menace” is on the hunt for a title shot, and he recently called out Henderson following his impressive victory over Edson Barboza at Feb. 22’s UFC Fight Night 61 from Brazil. “Smooth” agreed to fight him on social media, and now it appears that the bout will actually become a reality.
Now all that’s left is to make the bout official and find out the venue, news which will reportedly come in the next few days.
The TUF 21 Finale will air just one day after July 11’s blockbuster UFC 189 pay-per-view (PPV) card featuring the anticipated Jose Aldo vs. Conor McGregor grudge match, with welterweight champion Robbie Lawler facing Rory MacDonald for the title in the co-main event. The UFC employed a similar strategy last summer when Frankie Edgar fought B.J. Penn in the feature bout of July 6, 2014’s TUF 19 Finale one day after the Chris Weidman vs. Lyoto Machida-headlined UFC 175.
Henderson vs. Johnson would be a blockbuster lightweight match-up to cap off the rivalry-fueled TUF 21 finals. Assuming the bout gets made, who is your pick to come out on top and establish themselves as a potential future title contender?