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Benson Henderson

Benson Henderson

American martial artist
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro American martial artist
A.K.A. Ben Henderson
Countries United States of America
Occupations Amateur wrestler Mixed martial artist
Gender male
Birth 16 November 1983 (Colorado Springs)
Residence Phoenix
Education Dana College
The details

Benson Henderson (born November 16, 1983) is an American mixed martial artist who competes for Bellator MMA, and is a former UFC Lightweight Champion and WEC Lightweight Champion.

Early life

Henderson was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado to a Korean mother and an African American father. He was raised in Federal Way, Washington. When Henderson was approximately 9 years old, his mother, Song, insisted that he take Tae Kwon Do lessons with his brother. "She's Korean, I'm half-Korean, and it's the traditional Korean martial art, so she wanted us to do that to get a little bit of the culture and tradition," he says. Both Benson and his brother attained black belts in Tae Kwon Do.

He attended Decatur High School from 1998 to 2001. Benson became a part of the high school's wrestling team. After graduating from high school, he attended Dana College in Blair, Nebraska and graduated in 2006 with a double major in criminal justice and sociology. While attending Dana College, Henderson was on the wrestling team, and was twice named an NAIA All-American.

I don't drink—I've never had a sip of alcohol. I've never had a puff of a cigarette or weed or anything like that. Growing up in Tacoma, that wasn't a very popular choice. I made a decision, and whenever it came up, I passed the dutchie to the left hand side ... People have seen that. They see I don't do the club scene. By people seeing that, that affects them in a bigger way than me talking about it.

Mixed martial arts career

Henderson turned professional in 2006, winning his first match against Dan Gregary. He lost his third fight to Rocky Johnson via submission. However, this defeat was a minor setback. He rebounded with four straight wins before facing his toughest fight yet, against a UFC veteran, Diego Saraiva. Henderson came prepared as he dominated Saraiva for three rounds, winning a unanimous decision and his 7th professional win.

World Extreme Cagefighting

WEC Lightweight Championship

Three months later, Henderson made his World Extreme Cagefighting debut on January 25, 2009 at WEC 38 against Anthony Njokuani. Henderson defeated Njokuani with a guillotine choke early in round two.

Henderson faced Shane Roller on April 5, 2009 at WEC. Henderson won the bout via first round TKO.

Henderson was given an opportunity to fight for the Interim WEC Lightweight Championship against Donald Cerrone when lightweight champion Jamie Varner was unable to defend his title due to an injury. The fight took place on October 10, 2009 at WEC 43. Henderson won an exciting back-and-forth fight by unanimous decision. Both Henderson and Cerrone were awarded with an additional purse of $20,000 for fight of the night. The bout was also awarded 2009 Fight of the Year for all of MMA by Sherdog.com

Henderson faced Jamie Varner to unify the WEC Lightweight Championship at WEC 46 on January 10, 2010. After being outboxed and outwrestled in the first two rounds, Henderson came back and caught Varner in a standing guillotine choke ending the fight at 2:41 of the third round.

Henderson had his first title defense in a rematch with Donald Cerrone on April 24, 2010, at WEC 48. defeating Cerrone via guillotine choke in the first round.

Henderson faced Anthony Pettis on December 16, 2010, at WEC 53. Henderson lost his title by unanimous decision. The fight won Fight of the Night honors.

Ultimate Fighting Championship

UFC Lightweight Championship

In October 2010, World Extreme Cagefighting merged with the Ultimate Fighting Championship. As part of the merger, all WEC fighters were transferred to the UFC.

Henderson made his UFC debut at UFC 129 on April 30, 2011, where he faced Mark Bocek. Henderson won the fight via unanimous decision.

Henderson next faced Jim Miller on August 14, 2011, at UFC on Versus 5. Henderson dominated the streaking Miller throughout the fight, utilizing a stiff jab, great transitions, and vicious ground and pound throughout the match to snap Miller's 7 fight win streak, the third longest in the UFC at the time. Despite being threatened with multiple deep submission attempts, Henderson escaped each attempt and advanced position with increasingly brutal punches and elbows. He earned a unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 30-26).

Henderson faced Clay Guida on November 12, 2011, at UFC on Fox 1. He won the fight via unanimous decision after three rounds in an action packed war that earned both fighters Fight of the Night honors. With the win, he became the #1 contender for the UFC Lightweight title.

Henderson faced Frankie Edgar on February 26, 2012, at UFC 144. Henderson defeated Edgar via unanimous decision to become the new UFC Lightweight Champion. Both participants earned Fight of the Night honors for their performance.

A rematch with Edgar took place on August 11, 2012, at UFC 150. In a bout that was very tightly contested, Henderson defeated Edgar again, this time via split decision.

Henderson faced Nate Diaz on December 8, 2012, at UFC on Fox 5. Henderson punished Diaz with kicks, superior wrestling and ground and pound, Henderson knocked Diaz down twice with punches and was able to take his back on numerous occasions earning a unanimous decision victory.

Henderson faced the final Strikeforce Lightweight Champion, and promotional newcomer Gilbert Melendez on April 20, 2013, at UFC on Fox 7. Henderson won the fight by a closely contested split decision. After 3 consecutive wins to retain the title, Henderson tied BJ Penn with the highest number of title defenses as a lightweight.

Title loss and post title return

Henderson was expected to face TJ Grant on August 31, 2013, at UFC 164. However, Grant was forced out of the bout with an injury, setting up a rematch with Anthony Pettis who defeated Henderson last time they fought via unanimous decision at the final WEC event, WEC 53. Pettis defeated Henderson via submission (armbar) in the first round. This is the second time Henderson lost his championship belt and title to Pettis.

In his first post-title loss fight, Henderson faced Josh Thomson on January 25, 2014, in the main event at UFC on Fox 10. Henderson defeated Thomson via split decision. He nearly became the first man to submit Thomson when he caught Thomson in a standing arm-triangle choke. Many media outlets and observers were split on who they thought should have been declared the winner. Thomson had one more takedown (5 to 4) and was able to secure Henderson's back on multiple occasions, while Henderson was able to significantly outstrike Thomson (114 to 33) over the duration of the bout and was credited with the bout's only submission attempt.

Henderson faced Rustam Khabilov on June 7, 2014, in the main event at UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Khabilov. He won the fight via rear-naked choke submission in the fourth round. The win also earned Henderson his first Performance of the Night bonus award.

Henderson headlined UFC Fight Night 49 against Rafael dos Anjos on August 23, 2014. He lost the fight via knockout in the first round.

Henderson was scheduled to fight Eddie Alvarez on January 18, 2015 at UFC Fight Night 59. However, Alvarez pulled out of the fight in early January due to illness, and was replaced by Donald Cerrone in a rematch. Henderson lost the fight via a controversial unanimous decision. 12 of 14 media outlets scored the bout in favor of Henderson.

Switching weight classes

Henderson was expected to face Jorge Masvidal on April 4, 2015 at UFC Fight Night 63. However, Henderson was pulled from the pairing with Masvidal in favor of a welterweight bout with Brandon Thatch on February 14, 2015 in the event headliner at UFC Fight Night 60, where he replaced an injured Stephen Thompson. Henderson won the back and forth fight via submission in the fourth round. Their performance earned both participants Fight of the Night honors

A bout with Michael Johnson was initially linked as the event headliner for The Ultimate Fighter 21 Finale on July 12, 2015. Although never officially announced by the UFC, the bout between Henderson and Johnson will not take place at this event. Subsequently, Henderson revealed his intentions to return, at least temporarily, to the welterweight division and targeted a return date of November 2015 and a possible appearance on the UFC's inaugural event in Seoul.

Henderson was expected to face Thiago Alves on November 28, 2015, at UFC Fight Night 79. However, on November 14, 2015, Alves pulled out the bout citing injury and was replaced by Jorge Masvidal. Henderson won the back-and-forth fight via split decision.

Bellator MMA

On February 1, 2016, Henderson announced that he had signed with Bellator MMA. In his debut, he faced Andrey Koreshkov on April 22, 2016 at Bellator 153 for the Bellator Welterweight Championship. Henderson lost the fight by unanimous decision.

For his second fight with the promotion, Henderson made his return to the lightweight division to fight Patrício Freire in the main event at Bellator 160 on August 26, 2016. The bout ended in anticlimactic fashion as Freire stopped himself early in round two to declare he had sustained a leg injury. As a result, Henderson was awarded a TKO victory due to injury. It was revealed post-fight that Freire had broken his shin in the first round after Henderson checked a low kick with his knee.

On August 31, 2016, it was announced that Henderson would challenge Michael Chandler for the Bellator Lightweight Championship on November 19, 2016 at Bellator 165. Henderson lost the bout via split decision.

Personal life

Henderson practices Christianity, and often refers to his religion in post-fight interviews. He has one son with his wife, Maria Magana and has one older brother, Julius Henderson, who was born in Korea. Henderson proposed to his fiancée in the Octagon after his win over Gilbert Melendez at UFC on Fox 7.

Championships and accomplishments

Mixed martial arts

  • Ultimate Fighting Championship
    • UFC Lightweight Championship (One time)
    • Three successful title defenses
    • Fight of the Night (Three times)
    • Performance of the Night (One time)
  • World Extreme Cagefighting
    • WEC Lightweight Championship (One time)
    • One successful title defense
    • Interim WEC Lightweight Championship (One time)
    • Fight of the Night (Two times)
    • Submission of the Night (One time)
  • ESPN
    • 2012 Fighter of the Year
    • 2012 Fight of the Year vs. Frankie Edgar at UFC 144
    • 2015 Best Fight of the Half-Year vs. Brandon Thatch
  • Inside MMA
    • 2012 Fighter of the Year Bazzie Award
  • MMAWeekly.com
    • 2012 Fighter of the Year
  • FightMatrix.com
    • 2012 Fighter of the Year
  • MMAFighting.com
    • 2010 Fight of the Year vs. Anthony Pettis on December 16
    • 2009 Fight of the Year vs. Donald Cerrone on October 10
  • USA Today
    • 2010 Fight of the Year vs. Anthony Pettis on December 16
  • Sports Illustrated
    • 2009 Fight of the Year vs. Donald Cerrone on October 10
  • Sherdog
    • 2012 Fighter of the Year
    • 2009 Fight of the Year vs. Donald Cerrone on October 10

Submission grappling

  • International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation
    • 2011 World Jiu-Jitsu Championship Brown Belt Bronze Medalist
    • 2014 World Jiu Jitsu No-Gi Championship Black Belt Bronze Medalist
  • Arizona State Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation
    • AZSBJJF MVP of the Year (2010)
    • Arizona State Championship Brown Belt Middleweight Gold Medalist (Two times)
    • Arizona State Championship Purple Belt Middleweight Gold Medalist (Two times)
    • Arizona State Championship Openweight Gold Medalist (Three times)

Amateur wrestling

  • National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics
    • NAIA All-American (2005, 2006)
  • Washington Interscholastic Activities Association
    • WIAA 4A High School State Championship Runner-up (2001)
    • WIAA 4A All-State (2001)

Fantasy Football

-2015 MMA Lab Fantasy Football League Sacko Award-

Mixed martial arts record

Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Loss 24–7 Michael Chandler Decision (split) Bellator 165 November 19, 2016 5 5:00 San Jose, California, United States For the Bellator Lightweight Championship.
Win 24–6 Patrício Freire TKO (leg injury) Bellator 160 August 26, 2016 2 2:26 Anaheim, California, United States Bellator Lightweight title eliminator.
Loss 23–6 Andrey Koreshkov Decision (unanimous) Bellator 153 April 22, 2016 5 5:00 Uncasville, Connecticut, United States For the Bellator Welterweight Championship.
Win 23–5 Jorge Masvidal Decision (split) UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Masvidal November 28, 2015 5 5:00 Seoul, South Korea
Win 22–5 Brandon Thatch Submission (rear-naked choke) UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Thatch February 14, 2015 4 3:58 Broomfield, Colorado, United States Welterweight debut. Fight of the Night.
Loss 21–5 Donald Cerrone Decision (unanimous) UFC Fight Night: McGregor vs. Siver January 18, 2015 3 5:00 Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Loss 21–4 Rafael dos Anjos KO (punch) UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. dos Anjos August 23, 2014 1 2:31 Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
Win 21–3 Rustam Khabilov Submission (rear-naked choke) UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Khabilov June 7, 2014 4 1:16 Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States Performance of the Night.
Win 20–3 Josh Thomson Decision (split) UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Thomson January 25, 2014 5 5:00 Chicago, Illinois, United States
Loss 19–3 Anthony Pettis Submission (armbar) UFC 164 August 31, 2013 1 4:31 Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States Lost the UFC Lightweight Championship.
Win 19–2 Gilbert Melendez Decision (split) UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Melendez April 20, 2013 5 5:00 San Jose, California, United States Defended the UFC Lightweight Championship.
Win 18–2 Nate Diaz Decision (unanimous) UFC on Fox: Henderson vs. Diaz December 8, 2012 5 5:00 Seattle, Washington, United States Defended the UFC Lightweight Championship.
Win 17–2 Frankie Edgar Decision (split) UFC 150 August 11, 2012 5 5:00 Denver, Colorado, United States Defended the UFC Lightweight Championship.
Win 16–2 Frankie Edgar Decision (unanimous) UFC 144 February 26, 2012 5 5:00 Saitama, Japan Won the UFC Lightweight Championship. Fight of the Night.
Win 15–2 Clay Guida Decision (unanimous) UFC on Fox: Velasquez vs. dos Santos November 12, 2011 3 5:00 Anaheim, California, United States UFC Lightweight title eliminator. Fight of the Night.
Win 14–2 Jim Miller Decision (unanimous) UFC Live: Hardy vs. Lytle August 14, 2011 3 5:00 Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
Win 13–2 Mark Bocek Decision (unanimous) UFC 129 April 30, 2011 3 5:00 Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Loss 12–2 Anthony Pettis Decision (unanimous) WEC 53 December 16, 2010 5 5:00 Glendale, Arizona, United States Lost the WEC Lightweight Championship. Fight of the Night.
Win 12–1 Donald Cerrone Submission (guillotine choke) WEC 48 April 24, 2010 1 1:57 Sacramento, California, United States Defended the WEC Lightweight Championship. Submission of the Night.
Win 11–1 Jamie Varner Submission (guillotine choke) WEC 46 January 10, 2010 3 2:41 Sacramento, California, United States Won and unified the WEC Lightweight Championship.
Win 10–1 Donald Cerrone Decision (unanimous) WEC 43 October 10, 2009 5 5:00 San Antonio, Texas, United States Won the interim WEC Lightweight Championship. Fight of the Night.
Win 9–1 Shane Roller TKO (punches) WEC 40 April 5, 2009 1 1:41 Chicago, Illinois, United States
Win 8–1 Anthony Njokuani Submission (guillotine choke) WEC 38 January 25, 2009 2 0:42 San Diego, California, United States
Win 7–1 Diego Saraiva Decision (unanimous) Evolution MMA October 4, 2008 3 5:00 Phoenix, Arizona, United States
Win 6–1 Ricardo Tirloni Submission (guillotine choke) MFC 17: Hostile Takeover July 25, 2008 2 3:49 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Win 5–1 Mike Maestas Submission (rear-naked choke) MFC 16: Anger Management May 9, 2008 3 4:11 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Win 4–1 Bryan Corley Submission (rear-naked choke) Victory FC 21: Infamous December 7, 2007 1 2:36 Council Bluffs, Iowa, United States
Win 3–1 David Dagloria Submission (punches) Ultimate Combat Experience: Round 26: Episode 12 June 23, 2007 1 1:45 Ogden, Utah, United States
Loss 2–1 Rocky Johnson Technical Submission (anaconda choke) Battlequest 5: Avalanche March 31, 2007 1 0:46 Vail, Colorado, United States Catchweight (160 lbs) bout.
Win 2–0 Allen Williams TKO (punches) Victory FC 18: Hitmen February 16, 2007 1 1:37 Council Bluffs, Iowa, United States
Win 1–0 Dan Gregary Submission (punches) Midwest Championship Fighting: Genesis November 18, 2006 1 4:21 North Platte, Nebraska, United States

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