Former UFC fighter Benson Henderson will make his Bellator debut against Andrey Koreshkov for the welterweight championship this Friday in Connecticut, but Henderson has the fighting world buzzing for a completely different reason: he plans on joining the military reserves next year.
“I’m definitely leaning towards it,” Henderson said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Definitely leaning towards it. I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high or talk about it too much, but (having spoken to) some of the recruiters and whatnot, it looks like a legitimate possibility. (It’s something) I’ve always wanted to do.”
Henderson, 32, has considered joining the military since he was a teenager.
“I’ve been thinking about it for a long time,” he said. “When you’re a kid, you’re 17 or 18, you think about it. It’s truly something I have always thought about and have always wanted to pursue, and I’m not getting any younger.”
Although Henderson (23-5) is making his Bellator debut, he isn’t exactly an unknown MMA commodity. He won the UFC lightweight title against Frankie Edgar in 2012 and successfully defended it twice before losing to Anthony Pettis at UFC 164 in 2013. He left the UFC as a free agent in February, despite getting several contract offers from president Dana White.
“Well, first of all, just wanting to be a free agent was the biggest thing,” Henderson said. “I just wanted to be free agent and field offers from different organizations and see who came with the best offer. As a professional athlete, we have a super small window in which we can make a lot of money. You can be a radio guy for a long time. You can be a radio guy until you’re 50 or 60. You can’t be in the UFC when you’re 50. So for me, the window of being able to make that kind of money is pretty small, so I wanted to be a free agent and see who brought the best to the table. It just so happened that Bellator brought the best to the table. UFC made a strong offer. They made me three or four offers altogether, they came back two or three times – higher offer, higher offer, higher offer. But ultimately, Bellator made a strong case.”
Henderson will face Koreshkov at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut, this Friday. The event will air live on Spike TV.
Koreshkov, 25, beat Douglas Lima for the welterweight championship at Bellator 140 in July 2015. He has won five straight matches and is 18-1 overall.
Henderson said the key to the fight will be keeping Koreshkov off balance.
“He’s pretty good at what he does,” Henderson said. “He really improved his grappling. His one loss is to Ben Askren and he was out-grappled in that loss. A couple fights later, he wins the Bellator belt by out grappling Douglas Lima. So I think he’s young, he’s hungry, he has a lot of room to improve, a lot of room to get better. I think it’s on me to keep him on his heels, keep him guessing, and have him worry about what I’m going to do and how he’s going to react to me – not necessarily us waiting to react to him.”