Don't call Henderson 'Champ'

Benson Henderson (left) punches Frankie Edgar during their most recent encounter at UFC 144. (Getty...

Benson Henderson (left) punches Frankie Edgar during their most recent encounter at UFC 144. (Getty Images file photo)

NEIL SPRINGER, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:10 PM ET

TORONTO - He can’t quite put his finger on why, but Benson Henderson doesn’t enjoy being called “the champ.”

“I’ve never actually liked people calling me ‘the champ,’” Henderson said over the phone. “I believe I definitely will miss it one day when I’m not the champion. As for right now, I’m not a real big fan of that, I suppose you can say.

“I’m not sure. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I’m just not a real big fan of it. It’s not like I get mad at people say it or anything like that. I just can’t exactly put my finger on it. I’m not the biggest fan of people being like, ‘Hey, what’s up, champ?’ or anything like that.”

Perhaps the term represents goals met, as opposed to objectives yet to be achieved, and Henderson rejects it as an affront to complacency. Or he simply finds it tacky.

Either way, the current UFC lightweight kingpin and former WEC 155-pound titleholder certainly knows what it means to fight like a champion. With a 16-2 record, Henderson is undefeated since joining the UFC roster in early 2011.

He’s also expressed his desire to surpass middleweight champ Anderson Silva in successful title defences by the time his career comes to an end.

But Henderson admits it’s more about the journey to the top than the destination itself.

“As far as having those lofty goals and having that many title defences — to me, it’s more about getting there,” Henderson said. “The hard work, the dedication it takes to get to that point, to be on that level.”

Henderson gets the opportunity to notch his first title defence when he rematches former champion Frankie Edgar in the main event of UFC 150 in Denver on Saturday. The card will be co-headlined by a 155-pound scrap between Melvin Guillard and Donald Cerrone.

Henderson dethroned Edgar via unanimous decision in one of the best fights of the year at UFC 144 in February. Following the bout, UFC president Dana White pressured Edgar to move down to featherweight, but the New Jersey native held out for an opportunity to regain the lightweight strap.

With the two fighters poised to do battle again, White announced Henderson would not be eligible for an immediate rematch should he lose the title. Whoever wins Saturday will meet Nate Diaz some time down the road.

Since the lightweight division has been stuck in a perpetual cycle of immediate rematches, Henderson doesn’t feel White’s decision is unfair.

“It’s a pretty decent position from where I’m sitting,” Henderson said. “I’m defending my world title. That’s not a bad position to be in. You wake up, you have a world title and you’ve got to defend it. That’s a good position to be in. I’ll gladly take that.”

Though Henderson dealt significant damage in their first encounter and won the bout handily with scores of 49-46, 49-46 and 48-47, he knows Edgar always ups his game in rematches.

Edgar’s first bout with B.J. Penn was close, but the second was completely one-sided. His first professional loss came at the hands of Gray Maynard in 2008. When the two fought three years later, Edgar fought him to a draw. The third encounter saw him put Maynard away with punches in the fourth round.

Henderson knows he’s in for yet another difficult fight.

“Frankie’s a tough fighter and we all know he’s a lot better in rematches,” Henderson said. “It’s one of his biggest things. His coaches are great and they always put together a great game plan for rematches and finding weaknesses and holes in their previous opponent.”

Despite Edgar’s penchant for rematches, Henderson isn’t about to waste energy worrying about what Edgar might bring to the table this time around.

“You’ve got to be focused on yourself,” Henderson began. “You can’t be too concerned about what the other guy is going to do. He’s going to do what he’s going to do.

“Obviously if the guy has a big head-kick knockout, you have to be aware of that. But for the most part, I’m going to focus on what I’m going to do and how I’m going to get the W, not what Frankie is going to do.”

AROUND THE OCTAGON

UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones has signed a global sponsorship deal with Nike. Middleweight titleholder Anderson Silva is also sponsored by the sports apparel company, but his deal is exclusive to Brazil ... Roy Nelson has called upon Cesar Gracie Jiu Jitsu to join his coaching staff on the coming season of The Ultimate Fighter. The camp is home to top fighters Nick Diaz, Nate Diaz, Jake Shields and Gilbert Melendez ... Hector Lombard has attributed his poor performance at UFC 149 in Calgary last month to a fractured sternum sustained during training ... Strikeforce officials are talking to former women’s featherweight champion Cristiane (Cyborg) Santos about dropping to bantamweight when her suspension ends in December.


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