Phoenix, AZ — Former UFC light heavyweight champion Benson Henderson hasn’t had the easiest go of late. Coping with a three-fight slump heading into Bellator 273, “Smooth” was paired up with the surging Islam Mamedov in the card’s co-main event.
Mamedov hadn’t lost a fight since 2009 prior to Saturday night. In a full twenty fights, the closest he had come was a draw. The Dagestani entered the bout off a win over former lightweight champ Brent Primus, but Henderson proved he had what it took to snap the 13-year unbeaten streak.
It was a close split decision, mind you. Henderson, however, believed he’d done enough, he told media outlets including Cageside Press following the fight.
“I felt I had it, I felt like I did enough to deserve to get my hand raised, but you just never know. Literally, Burt Watson always says, ‘you leave it to the judges, they’re going to make you cry.’ And I live by that. Burt Watson’s absolutely right.” When the split decision was announced, Henderson did have an “oh no” moment, especially with his young sons in attendance. Luckily, the decision went his way.
Henderson (29-11) was fired up after the win, clearly emotional. That emotion, he explained after the fact, stemmed from “not knowing how much longer I’ll be doing this.” That led to him feeling the need to just truly enjoy “the good nights. Taking a step back, and looking at it, taking perspective. I’ll leave the perspective and scope to you guys to write up, but I for myself wanted to step back and take a look at it and enjoy myself, enjoy being in Pheonix, Arizona, looking up into the crowd and seeing my friends, my family in the crowd and celebrating with them, having a good night.”
“I don’t know how much longer I’ll be doing this for Bellator, so I wanted to soak it all in.”
The future of Benson Henderson, Bellator fighter is very much up in the air right now. The 38-year old touched on that more than once following the fight. “I’m not sure if this will be my last fight or not, so I wanted to enjoy it. I wanted to enjoy the W, enjoy getting my hand raised. Might keep going, might not. We’ll find out.”
If he does continue, he’ll need a new contract. “This is my last fight on my deal with Bellator. They pay me a lot of money. I might have underfought my contract. So going into the renegotiation, I’m not sure how they’re going to treat me,” said Henderson. “We’ll see, we’ll find out. But I do know that if this is the last one, this is a great way to go out.”
There’s also the chance Saturday could have been his last fight, period. One of the faces of Arizona MMA, Henderson has had a lengthy career. But wife Maria is set to embark on her own MMA journey shortly.
“I don’t know,” Henderson replied when asked if he could potentially retire off the Mamedov win. “I do know that I would like to continue fighting, but all the things have to line up. My wife is going to go pro pretty soon, we’ve got four babies, you gotta be home to take care of those babies.” Which means Benson could be a stay home dad soon, with Maria Henderson carrying the torch for the family, in the cage anyway.
Watch the full Bellator 273 post-fight press conference with Benson Henderson above. More coverage from the event can be found below.