Benson Henderson’s unanimous decision victory over Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone for the World Extreme Cagefighting interim 155-pound strap at WEC 43 made the Arizonan one of two WEC lightweight champions in The Copper State. The reigning champ, Jamie Varner, spent most of 2009 recovering from injuries but is back to face Henderson in a unification bout at WEC 46 in Sacramento, Calif.
On Oct. 10 in San Antonio, Texas, Henderson battled back-and-forth with Cerrone, the man Varner beat last.
“I had all the confidence of the world of being successful and winning and everything. To actually go out there and doing it is a whole another story,” said Henderson. “Going all five rounds, knowing I can go all five rounds and put on a good show against a tough guy like Donald, its kind of just proving something not just to other people, but proving something to yourself.”
The bout moved Henderson to 10-1 (3-0 WEC) and marks the first time the MMA Lab representative went fought into the championship rounds. After the decision was announced, focus immediately shifted to a Henderson-Varner showdown but Henderson had to worry about healing a severely swollen eye before he could train, let alone fight. Never one to leave the gym, Henderson taught classes the week immediately after his fight.
With an intra-state battle looming with Varner, Henderson offered his take on fighting the champion.
“My wrestling is a little bit better than his is. He’s a good boxer, has some amateur boxer experience, so I have catch up work to do there,” he said. “I think my submission game is better than his submission game, not that he doesn’t have submissions, I’m not saying that,” explained Henderson, noting that his fight with Cerrone was a submission clinic.
The “Fight of the Year”-candidate bout put Henderson on peoples radar but despite huge win and ensuing title shot, the wild-maned fighter remains humble. “I have a long way to go in my jiu-jitsu, in my wrestling, in boxing, in my kickboxing, in my muay Thai,” he said.
He may still have a long way to go but on Jan. 10, fight fans will see how far Henderson’s come.
This interview was conducted on Fox Sports’ Inside the Cage on Reno, Nev. AM 1450 and is hosted by Greg Delong with co-host Danny Acosta.