On Valentine’s Day, Benson Henderson will make his UFC welterweight debut against Brandon Thatch in Broomfield, Colorado. The former two-time lightweight champion has the opportunity to make a significant statement by downing a game opponent at UFC Fight Night 60 and securing a win in one of the most talented divisions in the UFC.
Henderson has held the lightweight title in two different organizations, World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) and the UFC. Back in 2011, Henderson contemplated moving up to fight at 170 pounds. At the time, per MMA Weekly, the former champion expressed his difficulty with having to make 155 pounds.
“It is hard on the body. People don’t realize how much of a factor it is. Thankfully, I hired a nutritionist, Travis Jeffries, full time and been a little bit smarter about it. As I get older, I eat healthier, try to eat the right things, make all these little sacrifices that it takes to be a champion.”
However, since dropping his UFC lightweight title to Anthony Pettis at UFC 164, a man to whom he also lost his WEC title, Henderson has compiled a record of 2-2 in his last four fights. When he lost his second straight bout to Donald Cerrone at UFC Fight Night 59, Henderson decided to move up to welterweight after Stephen Thompson was forced to pull out of the February 14 card due to injury.
In an interview with MMA Junkie, John Crouch, head trainer at The MMA Lab in Arizona, stated his thoughts on Henderson’s shift to 170 pounds.
“He wasn’t hurt from the ‘Cowboy’ (Cerrone) fight. His body feels really good. He’s been in the gym ever since. He just sparred the day before for four or five rounds. He’s good to go…I think he’d like to get that 155-pound belt back, but the last fight was disappointing. The result was disappointing. It puts us back in the line a little bit, so now seems like a good time to go up and check it out and see how it is at 170.”
Regardless of the UFC Fight Night 60 result, Henderson apparently has no plans to remain in the heavier division. Per Fox Sports, the 31-year-old exclaimed that although he is excited to perform in another main event, his move to welterweight would be a temporary one.
— FOX Sports: UFC (@UFCONFOX) February 6, 2015
“We don’t think of it as a permanent move. There are some other matchups at 170 that are pretty intriguing to us, so if the right matchups come along, we’d still be open to going up to 170 again. But as far as staying at 170? Probably not. I’m probably going back down to 155.”
Nevertheless, Henderson has always put on great performances. His matchup against Thatch will not, most likely, be any different, irrespective of the heavier weight class.
[Featured Image Courtesy of USA Today Sports]