James Gallagher is out, and Benson Henderson is in at Bellator 196 next month in Budapest, Hungary.
Just a few weeks away, there has been a major shakeup to the Bellator 196 card. Main event star James Gallagher has been forced to withdraw from the event due to injury. As a result, a new main event has been booked, featuring former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson taking on returning UFC/Bellator veteran Roger Huerta. MMA Fighting’s Ariel Helwani first announced the news on The MMA Hour.
Gallagher, who has suffered a number of injury woes in his short career, was expected to face the undefeated Adam Borics at the event in Budapest. instead, Benson Henderson (24–8) returns, looking to snap a two-fight losing streak in Bellator. In fact, the Bellator MMA run of ‘Smooth’ has been anything but for the fighter, who signed on with the Viacom-backed promotion as a free agent in 2016. On a two-fight win streak at welterweight in the UFC, Henderson was granted an immediate title shot at 170lbs against then-champ Andrey Koreshkov in Bellator. ‘Bendo’ suffered a unanimous decision loss, and while he won his next bout back at lightweight, it was anything but a definitive win. Opponent Patrício Freire wound up with a leg injury, resulting in a doctor’s stoppage. From there, Henderson was granted another title shot, this time at lightweight against Michael Chandler. He lost a split decision against Chandler, then suffered another split decision defeat a little under a year later to the other ‘Pitbull’ brother, Patricky Freire.
The goal will be to snap that losing streak against Roger Huerta, once a promising UFC talent on a six-fight win streak. Huerta (24–9–1 (1)), however, would drop his final two UFC appearances before signing with Bellator in 2010. He would go 1-3 in Bellator, which at the time was still headed up by founder Bjorn Rebney. From Bellator he signed on with ONE Championship (then ONE FC), going 2-3 and mixing in a couple of fights in smaller outfits.
Most recently, Huerta, who has been fighting exclusively in Asia and the Middle East since 2012, got himself on a two fight win streak, against ONE’s Adrian Pang and TUF 21/25 veteran Haydar Hassan. The Hassan fight, however, was a DQ victory after Hassan employed illegal elbows.
Bellator 196 takes place April 6 at the Budapest Sports Arena in Budapest, Hungary.