See questions had been raised about Henderson’s status as lightweight champion after two razor close decisions with former title holder Frankie Edgar, and everyone wondered if he needed to go out and dominate Nate Diaz at UFC on Fox 5 to define his reign atop the division.
Again and again, Henderson dispelled that rumor and said he just wanted to win by any means necessary, so long as he went home with the title.
Well, Henderson fooled everybody because he had no intentions of letting Nate Diaz even hold his UFC lightweight title, much less win it on Saturday night in Seattle.
What took place at UFC on Fox 5 was nothing short of a statement from Benson Henderson as he served notice to everyone at 155lbs that he is the best in the world, and he plans on holding onto the belt for a long time to come.
Everyone knew going into the fight with Nate Diaz that Henderson had the superior wrestling and strength, but from the moment the fight started, the champion was all over the challenger both on the feet and on the ground. Henderson attacked with axe like leg kicks that punished Diaz, and then came upstairs with big power to drop the Stockton, California native a couple of times during the fight.
Henderson’s ability to keep Diaz off balance was truly the difference in the fight because all he could do was try to counter the champion’s offense. At every turn, Henderson was in Diaz’s face with powerful strikes, followed up by powerful wrestling and suffocating control on the ground.
There just never seemed to be a moment when Diaz found his rhythm, and Henderson found a home for every attack he launched at the contender. The total strikes tell the story of the main event with Henderson landing 124 significant strikes to Diaz’s 30 according to Fight Metric.
Once the fight was over, the scores from the judges were just a formality because Benson Henderson clearly won and now defines himself as the best lightweight on the planet. To hear him tell it though, the fight was already won before he ever stepped foot in the Octagon.
The win came from months of preparation, and all Henderson had to do was unleash it in the cage on Saturday night.
“It’s just a matter of being well prepared, being in the gym as much as possible. All these guys talk about being fighters and “oh they train this hard”, and Nate also trains his butt off, freaking tough as heck, but at the MMA Lab in Glendale, Arizona we’re all about being well prepared,” Henderson stated.
While the champion could have easily talked after the fight about his second title defense in 2012, or what challengers he wanted to face next, Henderson took the time to pay tribute to some people close to him dealing with much tougher situations than a fight in the UFC.
Henderson dedicated the fight and victory to the mother of a pair of teammates currently dealing with cancer, and one of his business partners who recently lost his son in a hiking accident.
“Fighting is just a small part, there’s a lot more to life guys,” said Henderson. “Hug on your loved ones, cherish them, these moments that we have together they’re a lot shorter than you think.”