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Benson Henderson: ‘I don’t want to lose the mindset of getting ready for five rounds’

Benson ‘Smooth’ Henderson has already faced the best the UFC lightweight division has to offer.

With victories over former champions Frankie Edgar, Gilbert Melendez, Josh Thomson and Jamie Varner, the Glendale native has not only cemented himself as one of the best fighters at 155-pounds but also one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in all of MMA.

So when it was announced that Rustam Khabilov would be Henderson’s next opponent on UFC Fight Night card in Albuquerque, many fans began to wonder why someone of Henderson’s stature would take a fight against an unranked fighter.

After all Henderson, currently the number two ranked lightweight according to the Power MMA rankings, had already headlined several major UFC fight cards, while Khabilov had only appeared on a UFC main card once and never even came close to headlining a fight card.

But during an appearance on the Power MMA Show on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, Henderson revealed the decision to face Khabilov wasn’t nearly as complicated as fans make it out to be.

“We like having those five rounds,” said Henderson. “So when we got the call and [the UFC] said it was the main event and it was five rounds, I gave two thumbs up.”

Back in 2011 the UFC made the announcement that all main events would be five rounds, including non-title bouts. This change has benefited fighters such as Henderson, who has gone 5-1 in five round-main events, as he utilizes his incredible cardio to wear his opponents down over the course of 25-minutes en route to picking up the decision victory.

“I seem to do pretty well in five round fights,” said Henderson. “I always want to use that cardio as my unofficial weapon. You know just push the pace, push the pace and get guys tired and then capitalize in the fourth and fifth round.”

Henderson has appeared in the main event in all of his UFC bouts dating back to 2012 and all but one has gone the distance. This means over course of the last two year he will have spent roughly 130 minutes inside a UFC octagon before stepping into the cage against Khabilov.

Always wanting to be ready to compete for the belt he lost to Anthony Pettis back at UFC 164, Henderson says he wants to continue to compete in five round main events regardless of the opponent in order to keep his gas tank primed for another 25-minute war.

“A lot of guys say getting ready for three rounds, getting ready for five rounds is kind of the same thing,” said Henderson. “I don’t want to lose the mindset for getting ready for five rounds. For me five rounds is a pretty big difference than three rounds…I’m just trying to win fights and beat guys up and whenever [the UFC] says ‘Hey you get a title fight next,’ then I’ll be darn ready for it.”

This event is scheduled to take place June 7 at Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque, NM. A flyweight matchup between John Moraga and John Dodson has also been announced for the main card.