Benson Henderson will enter the Octagon without the lightweight title around his waist for the first time in nearly two years at Saturday's UFC on Fox 10. His loss to now-champion Anthony Pettis at UFC 164 made sure of that.
Succumbing to Pettis' armbar that summer night was a mistake the Royce Gracie black belt doesn't plan on making again.
“I made a mistake. It happens,” Henderson told UFC Tonight. “Mistakes happen to Anderson Silva, Georges St-Pierre, Jon Jones, we all make mistakes. It's a matter of making those mistakes fewer and fewer, and those holes in your game smaller and smaller. Pettis did a great job of capitalizing on the mistake and getting the submission, so hats off to him. I give all credit to him, but it was a mistake and one that I won't be making again.”
Soon after the loss, Henderson felt good enough to compete again. While many thought he may have broken his arm or dislocated an elbow, Henderson said he only suffered a sprain and was able to bounce back fairly quickly.
Just over half a month after the loss to Pettis, “Bendo” jumped on the mats again, this time competing with the best no-gi grapplers in the world and had what he said was a competitive showing.
“It was a slight sprain,” Henderson said of his arm, following the armbar submission. “I was able to compete over at ADCC in China, a pretty high-level no-gi grappling tournament, two and a half to three weeks after the fight. I was able to go and do that and have an okay, decent performance.”
Since the loss in August – just the third of his career – Henderson has learned that there's no need to make changes or switch up camps in an effort to fix the errors of the past. Instead, the spiritual fighter turns to faith as a way of moving forward and improving. By believing in the steps that have given him success before, Henderson said he can work towards eliminating mistakes little by little.
“Trust in the process and not be so scared,” Henderson said when asked what he's learned from his last defeat. “It was a small mistake. It happens. Let's continue working to get better and better and better every single day and minimize those mistakes.
“It's the same approach to all my fights,” he added. “There's a lot of extra hoopla, a lot of extra stuff that goes on before every fight – your first main event, your first time in the UFC, your first time on a main card – but how you approach a fight should be the same every fight. It doesn't matter.
“You gotta have an impressive performance and get your hand raised. This fight being the one off a loss, of course I'm anxious to get back in there and ready to go. But it's the same fight as the rest of my whole career.”