33-Year-Old Bellator Lightweight 24-7-0
December 2, 2016 Benson Henderson News
RotoWire Fantasy Analysis
Henderson revealed Friday that he has been fighting all year on a torn ACL, Brett Okamoto of ESPN reports.
Henderson has survived three bouts while fighting with the ruptured ligament in his knee, but decided now was finally the time to undergo surgery. He lost by split decision to Michael Chandler, and he fractured his right ankle during that fight as well. He was already going to rest for six months recovery, and this will likely push that timeline back three more months, as the routine ACL recovery takes nine months.
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Fantasy AnalysisHenderson gave Chandler quite the run for his Bellator lightweight strap, but came up short in the end and was dealt a split-decision defeat. "Smooth" has been incredibly active since signing with the promotion, as his loss to Chandler was his third fight since April. He'll need to take a break now, however, as the California State Athletic Commission will make him rest six months, barring clearance from a physician.
Fantasy AnalysisHenderson was forced to play defense from the opening bell. Chandler pushed forward with big strikes and slams throughout the fight. It appeared as if Henderson was hoping to wait out Chandler and make a late push. At the end of round four, Henderson locked in a back crucifix, and Chandler was exhausted in between rounds. About halfway through the final round, Henderson took the back and worked for the choke. However, Chandler escaped.
Fantasy AnalysisHenderson will come away with the win, but make no mistake, he was not impressive in this one. He entered as a -300 favorite on most books, but clearly lost the first round after Pitbull landed a higher volume of more damaging strikes. Pitbull seemed to be in control as the second round got going, but mysteriously backed away from Henderson near the halfway point after suffering some sort of knee or ankle injury. As a result, Henderson was victorious by default. Now, Smooth will take on Michael Chandler for the Bellator Lightweight Championship, but little about his performance in this one makes it seem like he'll have the upper hand. This fight will go down on Nov. 19.
Fantasy AnalysisHenderson perhaps bit off a bit more than he could chew in his first fight with the promotion, as he suffered a unanimous-decision loss to welterweight champion Andrew Koreshkov. He'll now look to even the score with the promotion against a fighter who is also looking to avenge a defeat. With a perceived size advantage and a bit more experience in the octagon, look for Henderson to open as a heavy favorite.
Fantasy AnalysisAfter a lengthy period as a free agent, "Smooth" sought greener pastures with Bellator, immediately being rewarded with a title shot in Scott Coker's promotion. Upon his signing, UFC President Dana White characteristically defended his brand with a parting shot aimed at Henderson: "We’re looking for top-5 guys, guys that are going from 15 to 1, not the other way around." While the 32-year-old Henderson may be battle worn, it's difficult to rule him out of his prime. Benson most recently defeated Brandon Thatch and Jorge Masvidal in 2015, and holds victories over some of the biggest names in the sport; Frankie Edgar, Nate Diaz, and Donald Cerrone, just to name a few. Should Henderson defeat the surgical striker Koreshkov for Bellator gold, "Smooth" will only continue to cement his status as one of the modern greats in MMA.
Fantasy AnalysisHenderson narrowly edged out Masvidal in a grueling, back-and-forth scrap. Interestingly, Henderson's UFC Fight Night 79 performance was the last fight on his contract. While it stands to reason that UFC brass will pony up for a new contract, Scott Coker of Bellator could always step in and make things interesting, as was the case when Gilbert Melendez nearly signed with the promotion. As he proved on Saturday, Henderson is truly among the current greats in the sport, and back-to-back victories over Brandon Thatch and Jorge Masvidal should only further cement that status.
Fantasy AnalysisAt one point, Henderson and Masvidal were briefly scheduled to fight in April, so this is a fight that has been in the back of each athletes' mind for some time. The pair of 31-year-olds have never faced off before, and the winner should get a crack at a top-5 talent in the welterweight division. Henderson is more likely to rely on his submission skills in this one, while Masvidal prefers to stand and trade, cashing in an 11-1 record in fights ending in knockout.
Fantasy AnalysisWe reported a few days ago that this fight was being targeted and it is now official. Henderson made it known that he wanted to fight on this card and he got his wish. His most recent fight was a submission win over Brandon Thatch back in February.
Fantasy AnalysisLate last month it was reported that Henderson wanted to fight on the South Korea card and it appears that he is close to getting his wish. Henderson had stated that he would be willing to fight at either lightweight or welterweight, but Alves has made it known that he wants to drop down to 155 pounds, so it appears that the fight would take place there.
Fantasy AnalysisAccording to Helwani, Henderson is willing to fight at either lightweight or welterweight. His last fight was in February, a submission win over Brandon Thatch that took place in the 170-pound division. Henderson has been battling some nagging injuries of late, but he should be ready to fight again shortly.