Benson Henderson: MMAWeekly.com’s 2012 Fighter of the Year

December 25, 2012
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Benson Henderson at the UFC 150 weigh-insThree title fights, three title wins, and nearly six million viewers for his last fight, and with that Benson Henderson has done more than enough to earn MMAWeekly.com‘s award for Fighter of the Year for 2012.

The year opened for Henderson in Japan where he finally got his shot at the UFC lightweight title when he faced champion Frankie Edgar. A back and forth battle ensued, but when it was over Henderson was crowned the UFC lightweight champion.

The fight was so close enough, however, that the UFC granted Edgar a rematch just months later, but Henderson never complained or cried about facing the former champion a second time, much less in back-to-back fights.

The rematch was even closer than the original one, but again Henderson got the nod for the victory, and with that made his first title defense as UFC champion.

To close out 2012, Henderson traveled to Seattle to face No. 1 lightweight contender Nate Diaz at UFC on Fox 5 in the main event. Up until then, Diaz had been dominant in his last few fights putting away names like Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone and Jim Miller.

There was no close call in this one, however, as Henderson dominated from bell-to-bell, putting on a masterful performance in his one-sided decision win over Diaz. It was the second time Henderson had been on a UFC on Fox card, but unlike his first fight which was a preliminary bout and did not make the airwaves, his second time was like a dream come true.

Nearly six million viewers saw Henderson’s performance over Diaz, which capped off a phenomenal year for the former WEC champion, and earned him a well deserved spot as Fighter of the Year for 2012.

“Thank you so much, it’s nice to be recognized for what you do,” Henderson told MMAWeekly Radio after being notified of the award. “Whether you’re a reporter and you win the Pulitzer, or whatever the case is, any time you get recognition and appreciation for what you do, that’s always awesome. Fighter of the Year, there’s a lot of great fighters out there, a lot of tough fighters out there, I’ll definitely take it.”

Claiming the UFC title and defending it twice, plus Henderson buying a stake in his home gym in Arizona, were important for him, but through all of that it was a trip to Korea that meant the most to the UFC lightweight champion in 2012.

Henderson visited the country following his title win over Frankie Edgar in February along with his mother, whose heritage is Korean. He says it was like nothing he’s ever seen before, and probably nothing he’ll ever see again, and to put it bluntly, the entire experience was unforgettable.

“After the first fight in Japan against Frankie (Edgar) after I won, going over to Korea. The reception that I got in Korea was mind-blowing. I don’t think I’ll ever really get used to that, it was truly mind-blowing. It was like Rolling Stones type stuff, completely overwhelming. That was what stuck out the most for me in 2012,” Henderson stated.

For all the celebrating that Henderson could do in 2012, he’s simply happy to be where he’s at, and stays grounded in who he is as a person. When he goes into his gym, Henderson is still just one of the boys, and isn’t treated any differently now than before he had the UFC title.

Staying true to who he is as a person and fighter are key reasons why Henderson flew to the top of the lightweight division in 2012, and that attitude and work ethic could make him a front runner for the same kind of accolades in 2013.

“What it boils down to is not believing your own hype, not getting sucked into that kind of materialistic world. That Hollywood lifestyle. It’s a little bit of your own personality, a little bit of trial and error, you learn through your own mistakes, you learn from other people’s mistakes. You see other people go through it and what happens to them, and you go ‘oh, they messed up because they did this’ and you can learn from that and you don’t have to make those same mistakes to learn,” Henderson stated.

Thus far in his career, Benson Henderson has made very few mistakes and excels in his triumphs. He should be proud of what he did in 2012, and 2013 looks very bright for the UFC’s reigning and defending lightweight champion.

  • champkc

    2 very controversial decisions and another decision of diaz doesn’t make you fighter of the year, have to do something outstanding……..6 fights 6 decisions in the ufc (all round sound fighter) but zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    • uncle

      I agree mmaweekly must really hate them Diaz Brothers a win over 1 of them makes you the
      poster boy because Ben didn’t really impress
      me with his previous fights Nate should of won
      fighter of the year

      • Lucas Freire

        I think the problem is that YOU just love them too much.
        Nate Diaz fighter of the year?? Really?

        • uncle

          The only reason you deny it beacuse his
          loss to Ben if he would of won what you
          say Every time a great fighter lose
          people like you act like that loss
          Erases Everything good they ever
          Accomplished in their career

          • Peter S

            Getting your ass stomped for 25 minutes is a pretty good start to becoming fighter of the year. I hope you’re being sarcastic. If not… God damn Diaz fans…

          • Ron Couden

            I’m a Diaz fan, and Nate would have deserved it if he beat Bendo, because he also destroyed Cerrone & Miller. But he lost, so he should not be in the conversation. Bendo was very impressive against Nate, and he won a bloody battle against Frankie. Who cares if they were decisions, they were extremely entertaining fights.

    • Ron Couden

      His fight against Nate was very impressive. Nate destroyed two other contenders (Cerrone & Miller) prior to their fight, so for Bendo to win the way he did was pretty impressive.

  • b-soc

    I don’t know who I’d give it to; however, it is hard to give Benson fighter of the year when he clearly lost the second fight with Frankie – bad judging gave him the victory. Can’t agree with MMAWEEKLY on this one.

  • uncle

    GSP even makes more sense a comeback after a almost
    2 year injury and defeat a maniac like Carlos was bigger
    to me

    • Timothy Malone

      I would agree with GSP as fighter of the year. He only had one fight, but him battling back from his injury and looking just as impressive as before against a fighter like Condit was amazing.

      In my opinion Henderson is the UFC champ who is 2nd most likely to lose that belt next year, only behind Demetrious Johnson. So I guess he should enjoy being on top while he can.

      • uncle

        And that’s my point the only reason Ben is
        getting fighter of the year is because he beat
        Diaz and if they go off 1 fight they might as
        well give it to GSP thats all I was saying

        • Ron Couden

          You don’t get fighter of the years for fighting once. GSP doesn’t deserve anything

    • Ron Couden

      He fought once dude!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/UB3CBHYP2GMXNKVBSIJBXD3IQQ Ryan

    Wow! 2 of those 3 title fights could have gone either way. I dont mean to take credit away from Benson but fighter of the year? Not even close.

  • Glassjaw11

    Matt Brown was most impressive this year. 4/0 and a killer finish on Swick! I don’t think fighter of the year always has to go to a champ or even a top 10. Fact is everyone counted this guy out on a hyped up Wonder boy, vs swick, etc. This guy is a BEAST!

  • Tri Pham

    benson henderson is the best ufc fighter ever.

  • dave

    I like Benson but agree fighter of the year is a bit much without any finishes. I’d go with mike brown too after the fight with swick

  • El Gvapo

    Yup, I’ve got to say Matt Brown too. Won all his fights despite often being underdog, and his fights were all entertaining too.

  • champkc

    yeah, matt brown has been on a great roll this year, been thrown to the wolves and treated as the opponent, won all his fights and entertained, and stuck it up to the ufc. lets be honest, his not a big enough name to be named fighter of the year unfortunately……………………

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charlie-Phillips/1234886916 Charlie Phillips

    what about rhonda rousey, johnny hendricks, or chris weidman

  • justin_e

    What is that stupid garbage he is always doing with his hands? All I know is I hate it.

    • uncle

      It’s the diamond cutter

      • K Norris

        It is the triangle symbol of the Lab. Where he trains. Ben deserves every bit of the accolades that he is receiving. Whether he wins or loses, he does things the right way, honorably and with humility.

  • Mario W.

    Way to go Bendoo!! You are awesome! Congrats champ and keep it up.