UFC FN 49: Benson Henderson Focused on Another “Great Performance”, Not a Finish vs. Rafael dos Anjos
By FCF Staff
Benson Henderson may be coming off a submission win over Rustam Khabilov, but that doesn’t mean he’s completely overhauled the approach, which led to his reign as UFC lightweight champ.
While Henderson has become one of the sport’s most recognized fighters, due to his impressive 9-1 run in the Octagon, “Smooth” has repeatedly been criticized for not finishing fights. Henderson’s victory over Khabilov may have silenced his critics, at least momentarily, but don’t expect a dramatically different fighter when he battles Rafael dos Anjost at UFC Fight Night 49 (quotes via FOX Sports 1 press release).
“Absolutely not. I’m going after a great performance,” Henderson noted on FOX Sports 1’s “UFC Tonight”, when asked if he’s seeking out finishes more actively. “If I get a submission or knockout, of if a guy slips on a banana peel, I’ll take it. It’s all about having a good performance and getting your hand raised.”
While Henderson maintains the approach he’s taking in fights is the same, UFC commentator and former fighter Kenny Florian sees it another way.
“I’ve never seen Henderson this aggressive,” Florian said about the former champ. “He’s so dangerous in the clinch. He’s a sneaky good striker and he out-strikes his opponents. He has to fight from the clinch and use his size and strength. He has to throw leg kicks. And he needs to get the takedowns.”
Henderson (21-3) has retained the #1 contender ranking, following his loss to Anthony Pettis last August, by scoring victories over Khabilov and Josh Thomson. In dos Anjos (21-7), he’ll face the promotion’s #5 positioned lightweight, who has also worked his way into title contention in recent years. During that time dos Anjos has defeated the likes of Donald Cerrone, Evan Dunham, Mark Bocek and most recently Jason High.
The only man to defeat dos Anjos since 2011 is Khabib Nurmagomedov, who decisioned him at UFC on FOX 11 in April. Nurmagomedov is currently ranked #3 at 155.
“He’s most dangerous in his standup game,” Henderson relayed on “UFC Tonight”, while discussing dos Anjos. “He’s best known for his Brazilian Jiu-jitsu, but he’s been working on his striking and part of his late career resurgence has been because of his stand up. He’s very accurate and dangerous and has power in his hands.”
“He has to work lots of volume in against Henderson,” UFC commentator Brian Stann said, while discussing what dos Anjos needs to do against the well rounded, former champ. “He’s a great striker and scores great takedowns, but I don’t think he’ll be able to take Henderson down. He has to use lots of angles and keep up the volume. He’s a vicious kicker, to the head and body. He’s also got very good wrestling. He’s got to back Benson up. He has to dictate the pressure and also avoid the clinch. And he has to stop the takedown.”
Since Henderson has been defeated by Pettis twice, the consensus seems to be that the vet won’t secure another title shot just yet, if he takes out dos Anjos. Another win, however, would certainly demonstrate that Henderson isn’t leaving the championship picture anytime soon.
“To be honest, it’s the same thing. I’m a man on a mission, whether it’s to get a belt and to keep a belt,” said Henderson, when asked if his goals differ from when he was champion . “I have a lot of crazy goals in my head. I’m always a man on a mission for something.”
UFC FN 49 will be hosted by the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma.