BEN HENDERSON WELCOMES THE CHALLENGE OF GETTING BACK TO ANOTHER TITLE SHOT
The boos are still vivid in his mind. And that’s okay with Ben Henderson, the former WEC lightweight champ. He proved his point in his UFC debut before 55,000 fans rooting against him as he dominated Mark Bocek. He proved something to himself as well. “I learn from every fight and one is not being aggressive enough,” he said this week on Inside MMA.
Since he lost his title to Anthony Pettis in December in the WEC finale, Henderson has been reevaluating his game, his approach to getting a belt again. “I have to dictate my fights, use cardio as an advantage. I train seven-eight rounds regularly, I know I’m in better shape that my opponent.”
His ability to last has never been questioned, his ability to finish has been brought up numerous times and he realizes that must change. Even with a rousing unanimous decision over Bocek, Henderson had this thought awaiting the judges’ scores. ” I wish I would have ended it. I hate to go to the judges.”
To that he has made a promise to himself and a declaration on Inside MMA. “I will end my fights. I’m not going to see my fights go the distance.”
He knows at this time in his 13-2 career there will be even more opportunities. The poise he showed against a worthy opponent and a hostile crowd has added to a rejuvenated fighter. It was a performance so impressive that he not only won over the judges but the crowd as well. And the boos as he was introduced turned to cheers as he walked out of the cage.
“It’s awesome to get that opportunity and to hear those who were booing no applauding. I think I won over a lot of fans that night. You remember those against you but you remember more those that were cheering at the end. I think it was a great moment for me. I’ll never forget it and it is a great place to build from moving forward.”
His plan to is add a few more wrinkles to his attack, possibly more striking to live up to the prediction of becoming a finisher. Whatever route he takes, there is too much talent, too much pride for Henderson to ever be content as a solid main card UFC fighter. He wants to be champion again.
“That’s what I train for. That’s what every contender trains for.”
And motivation can come from the most unlikely places. Like Toronto at UFC 129. Like having those boos ringing in the ears turning to appreciation for a fighter who has arrived at the top level.
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