TORONTO - He canít quite put his finger on why, but Benson Henderson doesnít enjoy being called ďthe champ.Ē
ďIíve never actually liked people calling me Ďthe champ,íĒ Henderson said over the phone. ďI believe I definitely will miss it one day when Iím not the champion. As for right now, Iím not a real big fan of that, I suppose you can say.
ďIím not sure. I canít quite put my finger on it. Iím just not a real big fan of it. Itís not like I get mad at people say it or anything like that. I just canít exactly put my finger on it. Iím not the biggest fan of people being like, ĎHey, whatís up, champ?í or anything like that.Ē
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.
Heís 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 itís more about the journey to the top than the destination itself.
ďAs far as having those lofty goals and having that many title defences ó to me, itís more about getting there,Ē Henderson said. ďThe hard work, the dedication it takes to get to that point, to be on that level.Ē
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 doesnít feel Whiteís decision is unfair.
ďItís a pretty decent position from where Iím sitting,Ē Henderson said. ďIím defending my world title. Thatís not a bad position to be in. You wake up, you have a world title and youíve got to defend it. Thatís a good position to be in. Iíll gladly take that.Ē
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.
Edgarís 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 heís in for yet another difficult fight.
ďFrankieís a tough fighter and we all know heís a lot better in rematches,Ē Henderson said. ďItís 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.Ē
Despite Edgarís penchant for rematches, Henderson isnít about to waste energy worrying about what Edgar might bring to the table this time around.
ďYouíve got to be focused on yourself,Ē Henderson began. ďYou canít be too concerned about what the other guy is going to do. Heís going to do what heís going to do.
ďObviously if the guy has a big head-kick knockout, you have to be aware of that. But for the most part, Iím going to focus on what Iím going to do and how Iím going to get the W, not what Frankie is going to do.Ē
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 womenís featherweight champion Cristiane (Cyborg) Santos about dropping to bantamweight when her suspension ends in December.