by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
What do you do if you’re the champion of a division and have seemingly defeated all the top contenders that are working their way back to title contention? That’s the position that WEC lightweight champion Ben Henderson sits in after defeating Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone recently to defend his title, with a list of contenders all jockeying for a position.
Henderson, who is undefeated in his WEC career, has faced the best of the best of the lightweights in the promotion and still has a perfect record under the Zuffa umbrella. The champion isn’t sure who might be next for him, but he knows there are still mountains left to climb.
Rematches are always a possibility, but the champ has said in the past he would hope to face some new competition.
“That’s a good question. I definitely got to pay attention to the rest of the division, can’t overlook anybody,” said Henderson when appearing on MMAWeekly Radio recently. “I’ve got my eyes on Anthony Pettis. He had a really good performance. He has one loss in the WEC. He’s coming off a ‘W’ at the pay-per-view show; he beat Alex Karalexis. Might be one or two fights away from going for the belt.
“Shane Roller, he’s had a couple really good performances. Yes, I did face the guy before, yes it lasted all of 1:30, but you know if that’s what the WEC says, I’ll get myself ready for that.”
What’s going to happen for now is Henderson is going to take some time off from his fight schedule, head back in the gym, and get married this August. Time off for Henderson, though, isn’t necessarily what most people would consider time off. He will still be training, but now it’s time for him to work on flaws he still sees in his game.
“What I really can’t wait to do is get back in the gym and not worry about fighting anybody in particular, like not go from training camp to training camp to training camp, but now is my time to get in the gym and get better in general,” he said. “Just improve my boxing, improve my Muay Thai, improve my jiu-jitsu, improve my wrestling. I’ve been fighting under three-and-a-half years, I have a long way to go.”
WEC matchmaker Sean Shelby told Henderson after the fight that they would take some time over the next several events to build up the lightweight division, and find a definitive No. 1 contender.
After the WEC finds the next in line, then Henderson will put the gloves back on and get ready to fight later this year.
“We told them after the Cerrone fight that I’d like a little time off,” said Henderson. “I’m getting married in August, so now until August I’m not going to have any fights. I probably won’t fight again till late this year, November/December.”
As for a possible move to the UFC, which has been rumored for several months and at times eluded to by UFC president Dana White, Henderson admits that he’s more than happy to go to the UFC, but he doesn’t make that call. For now he’ll just wait for the next opportunity to defend his title.
“If the call does come from Zuffa to head on up to the UFC, I’m definitely not going to turn them down,” Henderson stated. “I’d be wide open to that process.”
The Arizona based fighter will head back into training to help friends like Efrain Escudero get ready for upcoming fights, and focus on his wedding coming up this August. Look for Henderson to return in the late fall or winter of 2010.