In an odd twist to the UFC on FOX 5 fallout, Benson Henderson (18-2 MMA, 6-0 UFC) said he could "not confirm or deny" that he fought Nate Diaz (16-8 MMA, 7-6 UFC) with a toothpick in his mouth.
"I normally do, yeah," he said at the post-event press conference at Seattle's KeyArena. "I have it in practices, when I spar and when I fight. It's a bad habit, but whatever.
"I've gotten away with it so far."
Henderson's taste for the teeth-cleaner is unlikely to draw professional sanctions. He dominated Diaz for five rounds before winning a unanimous decision to retain his belt.
It's universal practice, however, that fighters are only allowed mouthguards during the course of a bout. Piercings to the mouth or tongue must be removed before a fighter steps in the cage.
Henderson fighting with a toothpick in his mouth would represent a serious oversight by the Washington State Department of Licensing, which oversaw the event. Henderson vs. Diaz aired live on FOX.
But it was hard to tell whether Henderson was even serious.
"For starters, I can't even tell if he's serious or joking," UFC official Dave Sholler said at the post-event news conference. "But I'm sure the commission wouldn't want a piece of wood in his mouth during the fight.
"But he's 'Smooth' for a reason."
Screen shots and video captured from UFC on FOX 5's main event, which aired on FOX, show an object that looks like nothing other than a toothpick lodged in his mouth. Several MMA observers called attention to it on Twitter, with some saying the lightweight champ fought the entire bout with the item.
A Twitter account with the name "Bendo's Toothpick" popped online shortly after the fight.
Henderson's mother, Song Henderson, told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com):
"I don't know why, but he loves those."
Yet the champ looked annoyed when a reporter asked Sholler if anything would be done to prevent the champ from doing something that could have not only hurt him, but his opponent.
"I was joking – I didn't have a toothpick in my mouth during the fight," Henderson spat. "I was being facetious."
Diaz, for one, couldn't summon much outrage.
"I don't know if he did, but that's weird," said the fighter.