Can Benson Henderson be the GOAT?

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

The MMA Encyclopedia author Jonathan Snowden profiled Benson Henderson, and asks, can he be the best of all time?

He begins by relating what Henderson did following his win over Nate Diaz in December. Never having had a cigarette or an alcoholic drink, he didn’t go on a bender. He didn’t go to the beach to heal.

What he did do says a lot about him, maybe everything.

UFC fans near Federal Way, Washington, at least those with a thirst for energy drinks or craving some chips, were potentially in for quite a surprise. At a small convenience store named Peter’s Grocery, nestled in a typical American strip mall across the street from a Safeway Grocery store, the UFC champion worked a ten hour shift

Not once.

Five days in a row.

This wasn’t a publicity stunt or reality television. This was plain old reality. As tired as Benson was from his months long training camp and 25-minute fight, he knew his mother, Korean immigrant Song Hwa Graves, was tireder still.

“That’s what she does every day,” Henderson’s head trainer John Crouch said. “He worked his mom’s shifts at her store so she could take the week off. And she works crazy hours. Even now, she owns this store and goes in and opens up at 6 AM and closes at 11 PM. And that’s her shift. Ben gets his work ethic from his momma.”

“With Benson it’s not about the big splash. Ever. Benson’s rise to success hasn’t been dramatic. It’s been slow and steady. Consistent. Like water pounding on the rock. His secret is that he’s always chipping away at it. Always. And the rock is eventually going to break. And he’s not too good to keep working.”

There’s the small matter of becoming the best fighter in the whole world, not just in the moment, but ever.

“To be the best fighter of all time I will need to continue to fight the best fighters in the world and win,” Henderson said. “I keep saying that I just want to fight the best in the world. I don’t care what order they come in, just line them up. In order to win those fights, I’ll need to continue to adapt to the changes in MMA and improve each area of my game as each challenge becomes tougher.”

Is Anderson Silva’s record for title defenses out of the question? His winning streak? The kind of run Georges St-Pierre has enjoyed at welterweight? Henderson isn’t the only one who doesn’t think it’s out of the question his name will be whispered among the best of the bests one day.

“He has a really great spirit and he loves what he does,” Crouch said. “Now it’s just a matter of doing it over the long term. He’s looking to match Anderson Silva’s records. so the challenge now is keeping up the quality over time. The way to do that is find joy in what you do every day. That will be the challenge—to be happy with what you’re doing, enjoying the process, and continue getting better.

“Make every day as good as you can. And you’re always going to get his best. That’s a super admirable quality. If you can say that about somebody in your life, that they always give their best? That’s a person to hang on to. Do everything with the best effort you can. Everything else takes care of itself. Ben will be there giving it his best every day he does this. That’s why I think he has a chance.”

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