Turns out meeting the 155 lbs. weight limit didn’t go as “smoothly” for Ben Henderson as he thought it would. Wow, talk about a world-class play on words. I’m here all week, tip your witness, and do try the veal if you get a chance.
There was no sign of trouble as former WEC champ Ben “Smooth” Henderson ascended the stage at the Ricoh Coliseum for UFC 129’s official weigh-ins. Well, other than the fact that he completely stripped naked before even attempting to make weight, and stepped onto the scale with a resigned shrug.
Other then that, it was all aces. In fact, the partisan Toronto crowd, which had booed every other guy fighting a Canadian tomorrow night, actually gave him a pretty warm welcome. It was a reassuring sign that maybe, just maybe, the WEC champions had penetrated the MMA fan’s mass consciousness.
Or that Toronto fans are simply the most well educated and informed MMA fans of all time. Either or.
They certainly won’t be remembered as the most forgiving, however.
On Henderson’s first attempt to make weight, the result came back at 156.5. That’s a disappointment to be sure, but in my mind half a pound (commissions usually allow a one pound weight discrepancy) doesn’t even register on the Travis Lutter scale of weight-making mistakes.
Tell that to the Toronto faithful, who turned on “Bendo” so quickly that Benedict Arnold and LeBron James were shaking their heads in disbelief.
Then the Ontario commission, in what surely wasn’t their finest moment, asked the UFC production to kindly turn down the music for a second. Seems the thumping nu-metal was throwing off their carefully tuned weighing devices.
I’m serious. Playing “Face the Pain” too loud will apparently cause Ontario scales to go haywire. We always were a Neil Young kind of province anyways.
A second trip to the scale was no better for Henderson, who was told he had an hour to shave off that last half a pound. Judging by the crowd reaction, you would have thought Dana had just stripped GSP of his title and given it to Ben. Even Joe Rogan implored the crowd to “give the guy a break.” It was a surreal moment for a crowd that should be all polite-Torontonians.
This seemingly inconsequential blip (Henderson would make the weight limit an hour later, as stipulated) has huge implications for tomorrow night’s card. I’ve long maintained that Mark Bocek is the livest underdog on the whole of the 129 card. In my mind, his odds just got even better.
Walking around the backstage area after the weigh-ins, I saw Henderson jogging in a full track suit, trying to sweat off that last pound while his trainer barked encouragement. “We’ve come too far Ben! We’ve worked too hard! This is just another sacrifice, Ben!”
In a way, it was inspiring. Ben did make that weight, after all. But man, I wouldn’t judge his facial expression and demeanor as “pumped”. Truth is, he looked gaunt and worn out, like anyone struggling to make weight likely would.
This isn’t to discount Henderson in any way. In fact, no one at 155 lbs. should sleep on him no matter what the circumstances are. But if his cardio isn’t there come fight night because of a rough cut, then Mark Bocek’s chances just shot through the roof.
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