Benson Henderson isn’t over his losses. In fact, he remembers them all.
“There’s a difference between being over something and learning to deal with it,” Henderson told Sporting News ahead of his Bellator 208 lightweight matchup against Saad Awad on Saturday night. “I have eight losses in my MMA career and I remember all of them. I’m not over any of those eight losses. I lost in my junior year of college in the NAIA national semifinals in 2005 and I’m not over that. I got inside leg tripped by Jake Dieffenbach and failed to go to the national title match. I don’t get over things.”
But just because his defeats still sting him, doesn’t mean that he hasn’t learned from those losses. Ironically, though, the greatest lesson from a loss that he learned didn’t come in the Octagon or Bellator cage.
“If you were to look at all my competitions and put them together, the hardest one was that national semifinal [wrestling] match in my junior year of college,” Henderson said of his loss to Dieffenbach in 2005.
“He (Dieffenbach) leg tripped me from like five feet away and I was like, ‘Oh my god’ and the clock was running out,” he continued. “I’ve never looked at a clock with a short amount of time remaining when I’m competing since then. I learned my lesson and that was 13 years ago. I’m not going to let that damage me. I’m going to have it motivate me, learn and grow from it.”
So, while Henderson still struggles getting over his losses, he makes sure to learn from them, while continuing to push forward.
Henderson (25-8) signed with Bellator in February 2016 to much fanfare. Expectations were high, but the run has been a mixed bag, as he has gone 2-3 since. Two of those losses came in championship bouts to then-welterweight titleholder Andrey Koreshkov and former lightweight champ Michael Chandler.
After losing three of his past four matches, Henderson was able to submit Roger Huerta at Bellator 196 this past April.
Bellator 208 marks the last bout on his six-fight deal with the promotion. While Henderson and the promotion are talking about a new deal, nothing is for certain. His leverage would certainly increase with a dominant win over the gritty Awad, while a loss would put him at the promotion’s mercy. The 34-year-old believes he has Awad scouted well enough to emerge victorious Saturday night.
“I think he’s really tough,” Henderson said. “He’s the definition of a well-rounded veteran. He has big power in both of hands. He has a lot of knockout and submission wins. He knows how to pick up the pace when it’s necessary. It’s going to be a good dance. He doesn’t have many fights in which he doesn’t show up and I have to be ready for that. I’m going to go in there, have fun and get win No. 26.”
After all, winning is the best way to get over a loss.