Henderson Predicts ‘Insane Pace’ with Miller in Milwaukee

By Mike Whitman Aug 10, 2011
One would be hard-pressed to find an informed mixed martial arts fan uninterested in the co-main event of UFC Live 5, a pivotal lightweight pairing of Benson Henderson and Jim Miller.

Two durable and exciting competitors, Miller and Henderson seem tailor-made to put on “Fight of the Night” at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee, a possibility for which Henderson will come prepared.

“Jim Miller is definitely the toughest guy [I’ve faced so far]. He’s a wrestler, so I know he’ll bring that wrestling mentality to grind out and do whatever it takes to get [his] hand raised,” Henderson said during a recent UFC media teleconference. “I’m definitely expecting the toughest fight of my career. I’m expecting to go 15 minutes, hard, at an insane pace.”

A former World Extreme Cagefighting titleholder, Henderson suffered only the second loss of his career when he was dethroned by Anthony Pettis at WEC’s final show in December. “Smooth” rebounded from the defeat in style, out-hustling jiu-jitsu ace Mark Bocek at April’s UFC 129.

“Every fight is a pretty big, career-building fight. Whether you’re No. 19 out of 20 or No. 2 out of 20, if you lose a fight, then you’ve got to start over. I view all of my fights that way,” said Henderson. “Thankfully, I’ve been blessed in that my career has gone how you would script a career. Every fight has been bigger, with more stuff on the line. I did have a setback a couple of fights ago, but now I’m back on the winning track where every opponent is tougher than the last guy.”

Henderson’s UFC debut represented his coming-out party to casual observers. After posting an impressive 5-1 record in the WEC, the MMA Lab export says he no longer needs to offer an elaborate explanation of his profession to fans on the street, a fact that Henderson finds relieving.

“It’s probably just the fan recognition [that is different]. We tried our best to educate the fans, but a lot of fans didn’t really know about the WEC,” said Henderson. “[It’s nice] not always having to sit there and give a 20 minute explanation about the WEC and its relation to the UFC. I’m really happy I don’t have to do that anymore. The UFC has the toughest 155-pounders in the world, and I’m just excited to be here and showcase some of the stuff I bring to the table.”

In regard to his upcoming contest with Miller, Henderson admits that the two men share many in-cage similarities. However, the 27-year-old believes that those shared traits may serve to help him better prepare for the Aug. 14 showdown.

“I think he’s going to bring a unique grappling style if the fight does go to the ground, [but] I’ll be ready for it. To be honest, I think our styles are pretty similar,” said Henderson. “We’re both former collegiate wrestlers who got into MMA afterward, so we’re both pretty wrestling-based on the ground, and our transitions to jiu-jitsu have followed similar paths. We do a lot of same stuff, so I think it will be something I’m ready for.”

Due to the aforementioned commonalities, some have speculated that Henderson and Miller’s respective grappling pedigrees may result in a stalemate, forcing the fighters to slug it out standing. When asked if he agreed with that assessment of the matchup, Henderson stopped short of concurring completely. However, the fighter did admit that in the event that grappling superiority was not established, a slugfest could easily develop.

“Maybe it could lead to more striking. Every fighter thinks he’s better, obviously, so I think my ground game will come out on top,” said Henderson. “I think it could be a technical, hard-nosed grappling match for 15 minutes, or a standup war where we stand there in the pocket and bang for 15 minutes.”

As former WEC champion, Henderson has been a part of the peripheral UFC title discussion since the promotions merged. Miller is another fighter who has put together an impressive resume -- including seven consecutive Octagon victories – but has yet to be rewarded with a title shot. As a result, when Henderson and Miller collide, it could serve as a potential No. 1 contender’s bout.

Though few could argue with the winner facing either Gray Maynard or Frankie Edgar for the division’s highest prize, Henderson chooses not to dwell on the idea. Rather, the lightweight preaches patience, believing that he will receive his shot in due time.

“To be honest, I have no idea about [whether I will get a title shot]. My coaches and manager do more thinking about that,” said Henderson. “I don’t really care. If you’re on the right track -- if you’re getting your hand raised – that’s the only thing that matters. Eventually, you’ll get the title.”

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