John Crouch Talks Awarding UFC Champ Benson Henderson BJJ Black Belt, Believes Instructors Hand Out Award “Too Quick”
By Kelsey Mowatt
Benson Henderson will head into his rematch with Anthony Pettis having won seven straight bouts since the two met in December, 2010, which includes winning the UFC lightweight championship and defending it three times. In addition, Henderson has also added another accolade to his resume since the two battled at WEC 53, as “Smooth” was recently awarded his BJJ black belt by John Crouch.
“Yeah, it’s pretty cool,” the renowned jiu-jitsu instructor said recently while appearing on Full Contact Fighter Radio. “He works really hard; he’s in the gi all the time. He’s competed at the World Championships, he’s competed at the Pan-Ams. I read off a list that night all the competitions he’s done, just in the last two years…we have good jiu-jitsu schools here, Gustavo Dantas has a school here that’s really good, he has guys who compete for Nova Uniao who are really tough, and Ben had something like 15 or 16 gold medals, 8 silves and 3 bronze. In just the last two years.”
Henderson was awarded the belt not long after he fought Gilbert Melendez at UFC on FOX 7 in April, and defeated the former Strikeforce champ by split decision.
“I’m really proud of him, but it was just a culmination of him earning it,” said Crouch, who is the head BJJ instructor at the MMA Lab in Glendale, Arizona. “It was just time for him to get it. I had actually thought about giving it to him earlier, but I didn’t want it to have anything to do with the Gilbert fight.”
“In my opinion,the two things are separate,” added Crouch. “I don’t like to see guys giving their jiu-jitsu belts in the Octagon when there was no jiu-jitsu at all. It’s a stand-up fight and somebody gets their belt thrown over their shoulder it doesn’t make too much sense to me. For me, it should be in front of your family, the people who helped you get there, the partners that bled with you on the mat. That’s where you should get it.”
While Henderson worked extensively to attain his black belt, Crouch sides with the growing number of critics, who believe some schools and instructors are handing out the belt prematurely.
“I think that people give out their belts too quick,” noted Crouch. “I think you should earn it. There’s guys that go, like BJ Penn who got his in some ridiculous amount of time, but that guy has proved it…There’s guys who are going to be promoted fast, but there’s guys that definitely get promoted for whatever, putting on a seminar for the guy that’s going to give him the belt.
“It took me 12 years to get my black belt and I was not a special student. I was just an ordinary guy trying to do my thing. There is definitely special people that deserve to get promoted faster, but I would sooner award a belt late than early. I’d rather their level be above their belt, rather than his belt be above his level.”
Henderson-Pettis II will headline the August 31st, UFC 164 event at Milwaukee’s Bradley Center, and the main card will be available via pay-per-view.