Disrespectful Non Sequitur of the Day: Josh Thomson Singles Out … Ben Henderson?
Here’s one thing we bet you didn’t see coming at Thursday’s Strikeforce press conference: Former lightweight champion Josh Thomson took some time out of his busy schedule getting ready to fight Gesias "JZ" Cavalcante on Saturday to kick a little sand in the totally undeserving face of WEC champ Ben Henderson.
"I think it's a joke that you guys have guys like Ben Henderson ranked above guys like JZ," Thomson said. "You guys got to be freaking kidding me. This kid (JZ) is a beast. The guy's a great fighter … Are you kidding me? Really? You guys have a guy named Ben Henderson ranked above this guy? You guys are out of your mind. This guy's a savage.”
OK first, it's great that Thomson and Cavalcante respect each other and all that. Second, let’s be clear about our semantics here, Thomson appears to be calling out the mavens of various MMA rankings, not Henderson himself. Still, if you've got beef with the rankings, why mention Bendo at all? For a vet like Thomson to take a shot at an up-and-comer like Henderson feels weird and frankly, a little unseemly.
At this point it’s hard for me to view Henderson as anything other than 26-year-old kid who’s done nothing but beat everybody the WEC has put in front of him, a kid who hasn’t lost since 2006. It’s not his fault he hasn't gotten the call up to the UFC and it's certainly not his fault that a few MMA writers think he’s pretty good at what he does. At this point the only halfway legitimate criticism that can be leveled at Henderson is that he fights in an organization that doesn’t offer much top competition. Oddly, that same criticism can be leveled at Thomson, a dude whose last two wins are over Pat Healy and Ashe Bowman.
Does Henderson deserve to be ranked in the Top 10? Probably not. But wait, is he?
A quick look around the major rankings reveals Henderson only appears in the Top 10 on one of them. He’s No. 9 over at MMA Weekly, a spot ahead of Jim Miller (Ed. Note: OK, that actually is a crime, but whatevs). Reportedly, he used to be ranked by Sherdog too, but the Dog bumped him to make room for Sean Sherk after UFC 119. According to the more lengthy USA Today/SB Nation consensus rankings Henderson is No. 14, Cavalcante is No. 19 and Thomson is No. 21. That actually seems about right, considering a point Thomson himself mentioned at the presser.
“Here’s the deal, the only reason JZ is not in the top three or four is because of the inactivity, and it goes the same for me,” Thomson said. “I was ranked like three or four and so was he, and then we ended up being hurt; both of us did. That’s the only reason we’re out of the Top 10, to be honest. I lost to Gilbert Melendez but Gilbert is ranked No. 2 now.”
Inactivity, sure. Thomson’s fought just twice since the summer of 2008 (going 1-1) and Cavalcante just four times in the last three years. Oh, also JZ is 1-2-1 in those last four bouts, including a no contest against Shinya Aoki in the Dream lightweight grand prix.
My opinion: Essentially, none of these guys should be ranked in the Top 10. And they’re not, except by one website. So wait, what are we talking about again?
“It’s a crappy situation that we’re in,” Thomson said. “We both feel like we should probably be ranked in the Top 10, but we’re not because of our inactivity. That’s really what it comes down to.”
Good thing for both Thomson and Cavalcante they have the chance to be plenty active this weekend. After this stern talking-to, it’s a good bet the winner magically finds his way back into a lot of writers’ Top 10s.