Four years ago Benson Henderson was mopping up floors and taking Starbucks orders for his coaches. The man they call "Smooth" was just another face training at The Lab MMA in Glendale, trying to make it big in the world of mixed martial arts.
Henderson, a native of Colorado Springs, Colorado, began his professional fighting career in Nebraska and after compiling 7-1 record in regional promotions, he joined the WEC in 2009. In October of 2009, Henderson defeated Donald Cerrone at WEC 43 to win the WEC Interm Lightweight Title, the fight was named "Fight of the Year" by MMA Fighting.
After unifying the WEC Lightweight Title and winning a rematch against Donald Cerrone, Henderson fought in his backyard of Glendale, Arizona, in a title defense against Anthony Pettis at WEC 53 in December 2010.
Henderson and Pettis engaged in a war that lasted five round and was named the 2010 "Fight of the Year" by MMA Fighting. Pettis defeated Henderson by unanimous decision, taking the WEC Lightweight Title.
In spite of the loss against Pettis, Henderson had one of the best years of any lightweight in 2011. Henderson went 3-0 with decision victories against Mark Bocek, Jim Miller and Clay Guida, putting him in position to challenge Frankie Edgar for the UFC Lightweight Title.
"The secret to Ben's success is his heart and his drive," said John Crouch, head trainer at The Lab MMA. "He has skills and he is a great fighter, but really it's his will power and heart that separates him from other people."
Henderson begins his training days with an early morning run followed by strength and conditioning workouts. From 3:30-5:30 PM he participates in closed professional MMA workouts at The Lab, Henderson finishes his day with a personal boxing session. Henderson will sometimes even teach a class at his gym if he has time.
With victories over Shane Roller, Jim Miller, Donald Cerrone (twice) and Clay Guida, Henderson has put together one of the most impressive resumes in the lightweight division. However, Henderson and his team know that Edgar will be their toughest opponent yet.
"We think Frankie is awesome, he's a great champion," said Crouch. Edgar holds a professional record of 14-1-1, and has not been beaten since April of 2008.
"We feel like Ben is a little bit bigger and stronger and we will see if we can take advantage of that," said Crouch.
Henderson takes center stage this Saturday night as he headlines his first UFC event. Henderson comes into the event with 10 career victories by submission or knockout and has won "Fight of the Night" three times while fighting in Zuffa (WEC and UFC).
Edgar has been awarded "Fight of the Night" three times by the UFC, fans should expect fireworks when these two men enter the Octagon together.