Not too long ago Benson Henderson was considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world.
Not anymore. Henderson suffered his second loss in the span of a year when he was knocked out by Rafael Dos Anjos last weekend at UFC Fight Night. Last August he lost his UFC lightweight championship to Anthony Pettis, when he was submitted by an arm bar.
Henderson is still undoubtedly a top fighter, but his fast fall is a reminder to fighters and their fans that anything is possible when two people step inside the cage to fight.
It’s easy for new fans of MMA to get behind their favorite fighter and presume that they are unstoppable. The longer you watch sports and fights, however, you more you realize that there are no guarantees.
Henderson’s story is one to watch from multiple perspectives. First, for Henderson, it is a humbling experience and a reminder that fame is fleeting and even the best have to work hard to stay at the top. For those still yearning for greatness, it’s a reminder that as long as you are in the game, you have a chance to pull off the upset.
Will Dos Anjos ever be UFC lightweight champion? Possibly, but no one would have thought that a year ago. He knocked Henderson out — something Gilbert Melendez, one of the division’s stronger punchers, could not do.
It’s tough to know what happened to Henderson, but what is clear is that he has not been the same since he fought Melendez. Many observers felt Melendez won the fight, but Henderson won the split decision. Melendez may have taken more out of Henderson than anyone realized.
After the Melendez fight, inside the cage of all places, Henderson proposed to his girlfriend. Henderson lost to Pettis in his next fight, tapping out to the arm bar. He then fought Josh Thomson, where he won another close, split decision.
Henderson submitted Rustam Khabilov in his next fight and then was knocked out by Dos Anjos. It is possible that he was just burnt out after a good run on the top. But it’s going to be tough for Henderson to bounce back after two big defeats.
Just a year ago he was on top, not he’s looking to remain a contender. He can return to greatness, but he will have to work hard again to get there. It’s a lesson for all the fighters out there that whether you are at the top or at the bottom, things can change and there are no guarantees in MMA, or when two people step inside the cage.