Ben Henderson Biography Introduction:
There are lay and pray fighters, the kinds of guys that take people down and play it safe. Then there's Ben Henderson.
Henderson's WEC fight with Donald Cerrone (2009) won Sherdog.com's Fight of the Year. His bout against Anthony Pettis in 2010, though a loss, won Fight of the Night and was one of the best bouts of that year as well. Even when the UFC made its debut on the FOX television network, the Junior dos Santos knockout of Cain Velasquez, though impressive, was nowhere near the best fight on the card.
Rather, Henderson's victory over Clay Guida is the fight that those who saw the event will remember. And it's just that kind of excitement that makes a biography on Henderson worth reading. Here is his story.
Date of Birth:
Ben Henderson was born on November 16, 1983, in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Fighting Organization, Training Camp, Weight Class, and Nickname:
Henderson trains out of MMA Lab in Arizona and fights in the UFC's lightweight division. His nickname is Smooth.
Martial Arts Background:
When Henderson was approximately 12 years old, his mother, Song, insisted that he take Tae Kwon Do lessons with his brother. "She's Korean, I'm half-Korean, and it's the traditional Korean martial art, so she wanted us to do that to get a little bit of the culture and tradition," he told MMAFighting.com. Though he stopped taking Tae Kwon Do soon after, that's not where his athletic, nor martial arts background ended.
Rather, when Henderson was cut from the Decatur High School basketball team (Federal Way, Washington), it caused him to look toward a different outlet. That outlet ended up being wrestling. After a solid high school career, Henderson went on to wrestle at Dana College in Blair, Nebraska, where he earned All-American status twice.
At present, Henderson holds a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under John Crouch.
Henderson graduated from Dana College with a double major in justice and sociology. He then took tests to jump on with both the Omaha, Nebraska and Denver, Colorado police departments. Afterwards, he was offered jobs by both, but chose instead to begin his MMA career. His reasoning? If he could pass the tests once, he could pass them again if things didn't work out.
"My mom was not happy at all," he said. "She said, 'Let me get this straight. You have two jobs ready for you in Denver and Omaha with good money, and you want to fight?' She was not happy at all."
As Henderson's career began to skyrocket, however, even his mother came around. "Before the fight (an MFC bout against Mike Maestas) I told her, 'Mom, I'm fighting on TV," Henderson said. "She didn't understand that. She thought I was still on rinky-dink cards. It was the first time I fought on TV, and I think because of that, she gave it a little bit of her OK. The more I fight on TV, the more she's sold on it."
Henderson went 2-1 as an amateur before beginning his professional career. He made his pro MMA debut against Dan Gregary for MCF: Genesis, winning by submission (punches) in round one. In fact, he went 7-1 before the WEC came calling.
Henderson made his WEC debut on January 25, 2009, defeating Anthony Njokuani by second round guillotine choke. He then defeated Shane Roller before getting a chance at the WEC Interim Lightweight title against Donald Cerrone. Henderson won a back and forth battle, taking home a decision victory and the interim championship. In his next fight, he took the real lightweight crown against Jamie Varner by way of third round guillotine choke (after losing the first two rounds). Then came another win over Cerrone before a now famous battle against Anthony Pettis in the final WEC fight ever.
In that fight, Pettis defeated Henderson in a great bout, punctuating things with a jumping round kick off the cage wall. And that's when the UFC came calling.
Henderson followed all of the WEC's fighters to the UFC when the organization folded into its Zuffa-owned big brother. Henderson made his UFC debut on April 30, 2011, at UFC 129, defeating Mark Bocek by unanimous decision.
Henderson is a very strong, athletic, and aggressive competitor. He is well-rounded in the sense that he can stand and bang or play on the ground. What's more, he's very difficult to submit, having looked like he was caught dead to rights before only to escape.
Most importantly, Henderson fights with heart. He is known for his non-stop cardio.
Henderson was born to a Korean American mother and African American father. He has an older brother named Julius.
Henderson is also a proud Christian who said the following on his former WEC profile: "I don't drink -- I've never had a sip of alcohol. I've never had a puff of a cigarette or weed or anything like that. Growing up in Tacoma, that wasn't a very popular choice. I made a decision, and whenever it came up, I passed the dutchie to the left hand side ... People have seen that. They see I don't do the club scene. By people seeing that, that affects them in a bigger way than me talking about it."
Some of Ben Henderson's Greatest Victories
- Henderson defeats Clay Guida by unanimous decision at the UFC on FOX 1: What a match! In the end, many believed it was too bad that the Junior dos Santos- Cain Velasquez fight was the one that the UFC shared with fans for its inaugural FOX effort. This fight was a much better one- a win for Henderson by decision.
- Henderson defeats Donald Cerrone by guillotine choke at WEC 48: Their first fight was amazing. Their second fight ended in the first round and proved to people that Henderson was a true power in the division.
- Henderson defeats Jamie Varner by guillotine choke at WEC 46: Henderson got beat up in the first two rounds of this championship fight. But the third round saw him once again come back from the jaws of defeat and win. With the victory, Henderson became the true WEC Lightweight Champion.
- Henderson defeats Donald Cerrone by decision at WEC 43: In one of the best back and forth fights of the year, Henderson won a unanimous decision to take home the WEC Interim Lightweight title.