While Conor McGregor made history last weekend by defeating Eddie Alvarez to become the first simultaneous two-division champion in UFC history, not everyone is looking to follow his lead.
On Saturday, Michael Chandler will defend his lightweight title against Benson Henderson in the Bellator 165 main event at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. A former UFC lightweight champion, Henderson entered the California-based promotion on the heels of back-to-back wins in the Octagon at 170 pounds. However, “Smooth” was dealt a harsh dose of reality in his Bellator debut, losing a lopsided five-round verdict to then welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov.
Despite that track record, Henderson hasn’t given much thought to a multi-division reign in Bellator should he defeat Chandler.
“I’m going to go get this belt at 155 pounds, but after that I wouldn’t say that belts offer a whole lot of extra incentive. Obviously belts are great and the meaning behind the belt is that you are the best in the planet and that means a lot to say that you are the best at that weight class, but I don’t fight necessarily just for the belt,” Henderson said during a recent media call. “You do want the belt, but right now all I’m concentrating on is [Bellator 165] and a man named Michael Chandler.”
That doesn’t mean that Henderson is against a return to 170 pounds, however, Where he fights is simply a matter of opportunity.
“I wouldn’t say that I think of myself as a lightweight necessarily,” he said. “For me, it’s 155 pounds or 170 pounds, just wherever the more interesting and fun matchups are. But, first things first, I have to take care of business on Saturday night.”
Chandler, who is beginning his second stint as Bellator lightweight champion, doesn’t sound especially interested in pursuing more hardware in a different division. But as a large lightweight, he admits a move up is far more likely than a drop to 145 pounds.
“I haven’t put a lot of thought into it. For me, I’m just looking for the biggest fight I can get,” he said. “I know there’s no way I could make 145 pounds since I walk around at about 190 pounds between fights. So, I’m not interested in losing the muscle mass that I’ve worked so hard to build. If anything, I would jump up to 170 lbs., but right now I’m focused on my fight this Saturday night and I’m excited to get out there and perform.”