Michael Chandler believes he’s in his prime, while Benson Henderson is past his heyday.
Chandler and Henderson are set to collide in a rematch on June 6. The lightweight clash will headline Bellator 244 inside the Wintrust Arena in Chicago, Illinois. In their first encounter back in Nov. 2016, Chandler scored the split decision victory.
Chandler Hopes Henderson Stays Healthy, Says ‘Smooth’s’ Best Days Are Behind Him
MMA News spoke to Chandler shortly after his rematch with Henderson was announced. The former Bellator lightweight champion said he hopes Henderson can stay healthy this time as their scheduled Dec. 2019 meeting was canceled.
“It’s good but you can set the fight all you want, but until we actually get there June 6 we’ll see what happens. This is a tough sport, people get injured. Benson Henderson’s a durable guy. He usually doesn’t get injured, he usually doesn’t pull out of fights. So hopefully he [can stay healthy]. I told him up there, I shook his hand and said, ‘train safe.’ I want him to get to the cage on June 6 so we get to give the fans what they want and for me to continue to show that I’m improving and a guy like him is just kinda staying stagnant.”
While Chandler would like to finish Henderson early, he’s also being realistic about his approach to the fight. Knowing Henderson’s history, he isn’t easy to finish.
“I’d love to get in and out quickly but I do know I think Benson Henderson is one of the most durable guys that we’ve ever seen in the entire sport. I have approached every single fight like I wanna go out there and finish quickly. With Benson Henderson I’m gonna keep my foot on the gas, I’m gonna put a pace on him but I’m not gonna except to finish him because I think that just plays into his cards, into his hand. He likes guys who come at him and he just kinda plays defensive and kinda runs away a little bit. So I’m gonna be smart, I’m gonna be methodical but I’m still gonna be dangerous and violent.”
Chandler doesn’t anticipate Henderson to switch things up much from their first meeting. In fact, Chandler believes that Henderson hasn’t developed any new tricks.
“A lot of the same. He hasn’t really evolved a ton. He hasn’t gotten more violent, he hasn’t gotten more offensive. He’s very much a, stylistically he’s a hard fight. He’s not a guy that’s going to come out and try to beat you but he’s a guy who’s hard to have a good performance against. That’s kinda the way I analyze his style. You will always kinda look, you’re not gonna look your best against him. I look my best when guys bite down on the mouthpiece and come at me and get into a fistfight with me. So that plays into his card if he’s able to kinda run away. I’m just gonna have to cut off the cage, go out there June 6 and put on a show.”
The question is, can Chandler cut off the cage enough to stop Henderson on June 6? The former Bellator lightweight champion thinks he will pull it off.
“Yeah I can, I mean I do. He’s a durable guy and my striking has done nothing but get more accurate and more deadly and more powerful. I’ve continued to grow physically as well as mentally and spiritually. I’m more of a veteran of the sport. He has more fights than I do, more cage time than I do, a lot of world titles but I think his best days are behind him and I think my best days are still out ahead of me.”
MMA News also interviewed Benson Henderson. You can peep that here.