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Thursday, Jan 23, 2014

UFC on FOX 10: Crouch Weighs in on Henderson’s Title Shot Prospects, Facing Thomson

Benson Henderson

By Kelsey Mowatt

In theory, Benson Henderson could take a big step forward to a third bout with Anthony Pettis at UFC on FOX 10 this Saturday, but according to the decorated fighter’s head coach, that’s not first and foremost on their minds. Rebounding from his defeat to Pettis in August and securing his 20th pro win, rather, is Henderson’s primary focus.

Of course, Henderson is set to fight Josh Thomson this Saturday in Chicago, who not long ago, was booked to fight Pettis at UFC on FOX 9. The champion was forced to the sidelines with a knee injury, however, and Henderson was tapped to fight the former Strikeforce champ.

Since Henderson has lost to Pettis two times now, the narrative following his submission loss to the latter at UFC 164, was that the former champ had a ways to go before securing another title shot. In fact, UFC President Dana White relayed that Pettis-Henderson III wouldn’t happen any time soon. But, if Henderson can defeat the #4 ranked Thomson this weekend, won’t his title shot run be significantly shortened?

“We don’t talk about that; it doesn’t matter,” Henderson’s coach at The MMA Lab, John Crouch, said recently on Full Contact Fighter Radio. “We’ll just win our next fight. Who are we going to get? No matter what they say, we’re still the #1 ranked lightweight behind Anthony, and so whatever they say, if we beat Josh, and then we beat the next guy, who are they going to put in front of us that deserves it more? Nobody.”

Crouch awarding Henderson (right) his BJJ black belt

“They had a five round war, which was a super good fight, four years ago now, and then we made a mistake and got caught in an armlock,” added Crouch while also referring to Henderson’s first fight with Pettis, which saw the latter earn a decision win at WEC 53. “It isn’t like we got the tar beat out of us either time. So, Dana White can say whatever he wants, he’s the boss, he’s done a great job with his company, but we don’t really base what we do on what people say.”

Thomson was awarded a title shot as a result of his impressive stoppage win over Nate Diaz, which took place at UFC on FOX 7 last April. After Pettis was forced to drop out of their December bout, and Thomson was re-booked to fight Henderson, he was quick to praise the former champ. Thomson even argued that the well rounded fighter was “more of a threat” to him than Pettis.

“I did read them. It’s cool that he thinks that,” said Crouch, when asked if he was aware of Thomson’s comments about “Smooth”. “It’s flattering, but honestly, it doesn’t really matter. I think Benson’s really good, I think a lot of people think he’s really good, but if we just sit there and talk about how good we are, we’re not going to get very far.”

Henderson’s resume may not be replete with highlight reel finishes like Pettis, but he is widely considered to be one of the sport’s most complete fighters, thanks in great part to his wrestling and grappling skills. Now it remains to be seen if Henderson attempts to put Thomson on his back, and whether he can score from the top position.

“I’ve seen him in grappling tournaments, a long time ago too, and he’s really good,” Crouch noted about the 35 year-old Thomson’s ground game. “I think he’s great everywhere, honestly. I don’t think he’d be uncomfortable anywhere…he’s been training for a long, long time.”

UFC on FOX 10 will be hosted by Chicago’s United Center and the main card will be broadcast on FOX.


posted by FCF Staff @ 8:00 am
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