Benson Henderson Is All About Winning Fights, Not Selling Fights
It's possible that UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson may be the most positive and motivated person in all of mixed martial arts.
In an age when selling a fight has become an art form with masters on the microphone like Chael Sonnen landing in main event after main event, Henderson got there the old-fashioned way—by winning fights.
Dig through archives of interviews with Henderson and you'll see he's rarely said a bad word, if any, about an upcoming opponent. He's fought some notorious trash talkers in the past like Nate Diaz and Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone, but neither could rattle Henderson to the point where he felt the urge to respond with a venomous verbal tirade.
See, Henderson is just about winning fights. He doesn't care about the pre-fight hype. He doesn't care about the gold belt wrapped around his waist. He just wants to win.
"I don't care about belts and all that stuff," Henderson told Bleacher Report during a recent media conference call held by the UFC. "It's nice and all that. I will take the belt and everything, but going into any fightm I don't care if its your first fight in the UFC, your first time on the main card, your first time as a main event. It all doesn't matter."
This time around, Henderson faces another champion in former Strikeforce king Gilbert Melendez. For years Melendez has been regarded as the best fighter to never hold gold in the UFC, and he's hoping to change that at UFC on Fox 7 when he faces Henderson.
Henderson, however, sees Melendez like he does any other opponent. It's like a video game where he can see his skill set, what he does well and where his weaknesses lie, but outside of that, he's just a nameless face standing across the Octagon from him.
It's Henderson's ability to take away his opponent's identity that makes him such a dangerous fighter. He fights the fighter for his skills and never gets goaded into fighting them to prove a point or to somehow get even because of pre-fight comments that may happen.
"You just have to win," said Henderson. "I can't emphasize that enough. Doesn't matter whether there's belts on the line. Whether it's winner go home, loser leaves the UFC or whatever that's called. It doesn't matter.
"All that's just extra shenanigans to sell fights. I don't care. I'm going to go out there and win every single fight. That's it."
Maybe Henderson's approach will rattle some of the higher-ups at the UFC who sometimes need to promote a fight with a little extra pre-event chatter between opponents. There is, of course, always a promotional game in the fight business that requires the competitors to sell themselves and the show they are fighting on.
The difference that helps Henderson is that everyone loves a winner.
The talk fades away when the referee says fight. The promotion and pre-fight banter don't matter when the cage door closes. Henderson holds court inside the Octagon, and a dominant victory will always ring louder than some bluster talking about how he's the best.
"I'm not really too worried about proving this or that," said Henderson. "I just want to go out there and win every fight. It doesn't matter. There's always going to be new and different stipulations, new and different reasons to win.
"I don’t really need ulterior motives. I'm a fairly, highly self-motivated person. I just want to go out there and win every single fight. It doesn't matter. I don't care who the guy is, what the extra stuff on top of it is. I just want to go win, period."
Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report and all quotes were obtained firsthand unless otherwise noted.
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