Despite owning a perfect 7-0 UFC record, which included three straight title defenses, prior to entering Saturday’s rematch with Anthony Pettis, now-former UFC lightweight king Benson Henderson (pictured) will have to wait his turn before sniffing another championship affair.
And if Pettis’ reign atop the 155-pound division is an extended one, Henderson’s wait will only be that much longer.
“Definitely is. Definitely is,” UFC president Dana White responded when asked if Henderson being down 0-2 to Pettis plays a factor in how soon Henderson can score a trilogy. “We had the fight with Ben and Frankie [Edgar] where some people [didn’t know who won]. There’s no f—— denying who won this fight, and it was a first round annihilation, kind of like the Vitor [Belfort]-Anderson [Silva] thing.”
Pettis took the edge in their rivalry with a unanimous decision win to capture the WEC lightweight belt. However, that back-and-forth scrap was up in the air until Pettis did that “Showtime Kick” thing in the closing minutes to help seal the deal.
Their careers took different paths since that initial December 2010 encounter, and Henderson was hoping to “erase the stain from his soul” by posting a dominant victory in the rematch. Unfortunately for “Smooth,” things hit a rough patch when his elbow went snap, crackle and pop after Pettis slapped on the opening round armbar.
As if trailing Pettis 0-2 wasn’t bad enough, a convincing defeat in their most recent matchup makes it even tougher to justify Part III – regardless of the torrid run Henderson is capable of stringing together.
There’s simply no rubber in the rubber match because Henderson is posting a goose egg against Pettis.
When you take into account White’s disinterest in a third fight, which is directly tied to pay-per-view interest, Henderson’s best hope at reclaiming the throne is that Pettis decides to focus on Jose Aldo’s UFC featherweight belt or he loses the lightweight title.