"I'm just doing whatever I have to do to get my hand raised," said Henderson, who's won five straight decisions since his UFC debut in April of 2011. "If that leads to me getting guillotine [choke] submissions in the first round, cool, I'll take it. If it leads to me getting split decisions in pretty close fights, I'll take that too."
The question is: Will fans be as forgiving?
It's one thing to make your way up the UFC ladder with one close decision victory after another, but another thing to hold on to a title that way. Fight fans often want their champions to be dominant, destructive forces, and so far Henderson hasn't made that case. If that criticism bothers him, however, he won't admit it.
"The only time I hear it is when [reporters] bring it up," Henderson said. "Otherwise, I don't pay attention to it at all. Maybe I should."
Against Diaz, maybe Henderson won't have much choice. While Henderson has found success as the calculating technician who wins fights one round at time, the challenger is a brash, in-your-face scrapper who would love nothing more than to turn this network TV main event into a back-alley street fight. Henderson maintains that he looks at fighting "as a job," but for Diaz it's almost always personal, which might be a new experience for the champ.
"I've never had anything personal where I hated the guy, and his momma and everything else," Henderson said. "Everyone I've fought has been a pretty decent guy. It's never been personal for me in my fighting career. I don't think I've ever fought anyone who didn't like me as a person, either."