Former UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson has announced that he has signed with Bellator MMA following the expiration of his UFC contract. The news was announced on the fighters official website and whilst dates, opponents or even weight class (Henderson’s last two UFC bouts were fought at 170lbs) were not mentioned, in typical #WHOATV fashion we bring you five fighters (Lightweight and Welterweight) to welcome Ben Henderson to the Bellator cage;
Paul Daley (38-13-1 MMA 4-0 BMMA)
For me Henderson is a great matchup for Daley and will give him a real chance to prove himself against one of the best Lightweights on the planet. Be that at Lightweight or Welterweight or even a catch weight. The next logical step for Daley is obviously a rematch with Josh Koscheck but if that fight doesn’t come to fruition then a fight with Henderson is definitely an attractive proposition for both fighters. A win for Henderson would quickly escalate him into Title contention and I feel that Bellator won’t rush him into a Title shot and look to build him up in their division against a credible opponent such as Daley. They could almost definitely use this as a headline bout for any card but particularly one of the European bouts in 2016. Daley has already put his hand up for the bout and I think the fans would be very interested in seeing this one.
Michael Chandler (14-3 MMA 11-3 BMMA)
Chandler is another very credible name to welcome Henderson into the Bellator cage and I would love to see these two fight. Chandler has three red marks on his record but against two very high level fighters in Eddie Alvarez and current Bellator Lightweight Champion Will Brooks, and a fight with Henderson would give him another opportunity to prove that he is on the highest level of the Lightweight division. Chandler had a very strong 2015 picking up two stoppage wins and for me is probably only one or two fights from getting a rematch with the Champion, whoever that may be at the time and a win over someone of Henderson’s calibre would certainly provide a strong enough reason to get him there.
Josh Thomson (22-8-1 MMA 2-0 BMMA)
Thomson and Henderson fought to a split decision back in January 2014 and am argument could certainly be had to see the rematch under the Bellator banner. Since that fight Thomson signed with Bellator following a three fight losing streak in the UFC and has bounced back with two stoppage wins, arguably against a lower rank of competition. Henderson provides Thomson with the level of competition he should, in my eyes be competing against at this stage in his career. Thomson is one of those guys who is always there or there abouts at the top of the division and fought some of the best in the UFC during his time there, Henderson included and although he had a 1-3 record was never truly beaten. Bellator are big on the big named fights and this is definitely one which would drum up attention.
Will Brooks (17-1 MMA 9-1 BMMA)
Brooks has been “The Man” at 155lbs in Bellator since winning the Lightweight crown in May 2014 against Michael Chandler. The ATT fighter is riding an eight fight win streak and has been pretty untouchable in his performances. Step forward Ben Henderson who would definitely give the Champ a run for his money. A fight like this for Brooks would really help to raise his stock and whilst some may argue that he hasn’t fought anyone of Henderson’s calibre, this is certainly through no fault of his own and he has beaten everyone Bellator have put in front of him. I really like this fight and it has that feel of a “Passing of the sword” kind of bout in my opinion and a fight which I feel Brooks truly deserves given what he has done in the division.
Douglas Lima (26-6 MMA 8-2 BMMA)
The former Welterweight Champion would be a great fight for Henderson and a win for either man could set up a justified Welterweight Title fight for sure. Lima is an extremely exciting fighter and holds twenty three of his twenty six wins by stoppage and has only two losses in his last sixteen fights. There does seem to be a bit of a blueprint to beating him which is to stop his striking and take him down, as executed perfectly by Ben Askren and someone like Henderson would really test his wrestling defence. Henderson can probably be guilty of trying to strike with strikers more than he should (Pettis, Dos Anjos) and so would need to steer clear of Lima’s striking if these two ever met but he has a solid chin and this could definitely be an interesting bout at 170lbs for Henderson.