Homegrown MMA star Benson Henderson seeks path to third career championship

Benson “Smooth” Henderson and Ryan Bader don’t just share a fight night card at Bellator 273 on Saturday night at the Footprint Center. They both just lost the last time they fought at the home of the Phoenix Suns, in October 2021, they both came to settle in the Phoenix area after moving from elsewhere in Arizona, and they both had long and highly successful careers in the fight game, each at 38 years old.

But unlike heavyweight champion Bader, Henderson is chasing a Bellator title he hasn’t been able to capture since joining the promotion in 2016. He’s been a UFC and World Extreme Cagefighting, and in the later stages of his career. , is looking to get a Bellator Lightweight Championship fight as soon as possible.

Henderson said his wife asked him several years ago to win a third championship belt, and he’s been pursuing it ever since. A big step towards that goal would be a win over Islam Mamedov in the co-main event on Saturday.

Mamedov is undefeated in his last 20 fights. Henderson (28-11) has lost three straight fights.

“I need, I need to have the Bellator belt around my waist, otherwise things just don’t make sense. The world is wrong, the world doesn’t make sense to me,” said Henderson. “I won’t stop until I have the belt around my waist. I’ll keep going, keep going, keep going until the wheels drop.”

Henderson was sped up for a fight against Mamedov, and he is grateful for the opportunity. Saturday at the weigh-in ceremony in downtown Phoenix, his confrontation with Mamedov was different from the cold stares and almost nose-to-nose confrontations between most opponents.

Henderson and Mamedov shook hands and wished each other good luck. But business is business, and being cordial ends in the cage.

“If beating Islam gets me back up there in the title chase, talk about it again for the title, great,” Henderson said. “Nobody else wanted to fight him. Everybody refuses to fight this guy. I know I wanted to fight Islam because of his difficult wrestling background. So I said ‘I’m your guy. I’m your blueberry. Sign me up.'”

Fifteen-plus years in the sport has given Henderson, who grew up in the Seattle-Tacoma area, plenty of perspective. He said he learned that it takes a strong team behind him to have a long career like his, and physically, a proper warm-up and cool-down with stretching before and after a workout.” will help you add years to your career”.

Henderson said he always wanted to improve, both as a competitor and as a husband and father.

“The desire to be the best, the desire to raise my hand, that’s paramount to me, that’s in everything I do,” Henderson said. “So it’s not just for my career that I have this mindset, but it’s in my whole life. I want to be a better husband every day. It’s tough! It’s tough! “

Henderson was a bit surprised that Phoenix hosted another Bellator event just months after Bellator 268 was held at the Footprint Center. He lost via unanimous decision that night.

“I’m currently happy and incredibly grateful to be fighting in my adopted hometown, not just logistically, but honestly, I love, love that my family, my friends, my fans can come out and support and look into the crowd and see 10, 15, 20 people that I know,” Henderson said. “I won’t be doing this for too long, so having fights here in Phoenix really means a lot to me.”

Contact Jose Romero at [email protected] Find him on Twitter at @RomeroJoseM.

This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Bellator Veteran Benson Henderson Needs MMA Title Win

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