Ben Henderson: When Winning Isn’t Enough
- Former UFC Lightweight Champion
- 8-1 in his UFC career
- Consistent member of the best pound for pound fighter list
- Headlined 3 UFC on Fox cards
- Headlined 3 UFC pay per views
Not good enough.
Benson Henderson’s resume should speak for itself. He is, undeniably, one of the best fighters on the planet. However, there is no fighter on the UFC roster who is seemingly more unliked, for quite frankly, being good, than Henderson. After Saturday’s UFC on Fox card, I was trying to wrap my head around the fact that a guy can be as good as Henderson has been, but get booed out of every single arena. His post-fight interviews are cringe worthy – him trying to thank the crowd and his coaches, over a chorus of boos.
The question is, why?
The obvious reason is that even though Henderson is a winner, he is a winner by decision. Decisions might bring in the pay cheques, but they don’t make you a fan favourite. The only finish that Henderson has been a part of, involved him tapping out to an Anthony Pettis arm bar in the first round of their title fight. In fact, one can argue that the top two highlights of his career involve being tapped out by Pettis, and being on the wrong side of the kick heard around the MMA worldIt is unfair to label any mixed martial artist “boring” – they are dedicated, highly skilled athletes who participate in one of the most dangerous sports being promoted today. Yet, it’s difficult to label Henderson anything but. Everyone, including UFC brass, loves a finish. Finishes to fights end up on highlight reels, countdowns and they are what sell shows. Look at the sudden rise of Vitor Belfort from the ashes of what looked like a finished career. His stunning knock out victories have made him a hot commodity once again, and he is seemingly on the verge of a middleweight title shot. Also, look at the venom that was tossed Georges St. Pierre’s way towards the end of his run with the welterweight title reign, where he was criticized for “playing it safe” and avoiding the finish.
In the end, it’s a question that isn’t going to get answered. Fans of MMA are nog going to change, nor really should they. Any fan that pays to see an event live or pay per view wants to be a part of a memorable moment. Fighters, like Henderson, have every right to fight in their own way. We may consider it “playing it safe,” others might call it, “playing it smart.”
Do the boos bother the former champion? Will he wilt to the pressure and come out in his next fight guns a blazing, throwing caution to the wind?
Only Benson Henderson and his coaches know. For his sake, I do hope something changes.
Wins are wins, unless they’re a Ben Henderson win.