UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson will get to fight Nate Diaz at the next UFC on Fox card. Henderson talked to Cagewriter about how he is excited about the chance to fight at home, what network television means to him, and soccer moms.
Henderson's fight is the main event at UFC on Fox 5 in the Key Arena, the former home of the Seattle Supersonics. He grew up just a half hour from the arena and went to basketball games there, but he has never fought in his home state. His previous visits to the Key Arena were as a fan.
"I didn't have the money to go to a ton of Sonics games, but when I went, I would go to Key Arena. Not only my first time ever in Washington, but to have it in Seattle. Not only in Seattle, but to have it in Key Arena. Not only is it in Key Arena, but I'm the main event."
Expect to hear a crowd squarely in Henderson's corner.
"Five minutes after they announced it, I had 20 calls and texts. I've got a ton of messages and tweets and emails from my buddies. There's going to be a large pro-Ben Henderson crowd."
The last time Henderson was on a Fox card, his fight didn't make the network airing. His bout with Clay Guida was on the undercard of the UFC's first fight on Fox. The only bout that was on Fox was Junior dos Santos' quick knockout of Cain Velasquez. This time, Henderson knows he'll make the airing because his fight is the main event.
"This time on Fox, I get to be the actual guy on Fox, so I'm really excited about that. My first time on Fox, it was the first time the UFC was on Fox and it was so hyped and it was so big, and then, I wasn't really on Fox. They didn't show me, and it was so hyped up. I'm stoked this time to be the main event."
But he says fighting on network television in front of a home crowd doesn't put more pressure on him.
"There's no additional pressure. The pressure I place on myself, the standards I hold myself to are higher than anyone else's."
In fact, Henderson is happy to get back to more accessible television. While fighting for World Extreme Cagefighting, Henderson would appear on cable TV regularly as his fights would often be rerun on Versus. This ended up winning him fans from surprising backgrounds.
"A few times I've been shocked by the people who recognize me. And not because their kid is a fan, but they are fans. Soccer moms will say to me, 'I saw you on TV the other day! I love watching you!' and I'll ask, 'Did you watch with your son?' and they say, 'No, I was flipping channels while I was cooking dinner and I started watching you.' That's happened a bunch of times. Going through my local grocery store, and I met a lady whose a crazy fan. She always watches. She saw from when I was on Versus. I think it's cool when fans you wouldn't expect are huge fans of MMA. They wouldn't normally buy a pay-per-view, but they see it on TV and become huge fans of it. "