Today we’re talking to former UFC and WEC lightweight champion Benson Henderson. No stranger to success, “Smooth” has attained a mile-long list of accomplishments throughout his collegiate and mixed martial arts career. Culminating with ESPN fighter year honors in 2012, “Smooth” was victorious in his quest against Frankie Edgar to become lightweight champion at UFC 144. Having beaten some of the biggest names in mixed martial arts such as Nate Diaz, Gilbert Melendez, Clay Guida, Jim Miller, Frankie Edgar and more, Benson has cemented himself as an all-time great mixed martial artist.
Everyone knows Benson “Smooth” Henderson the fighter, but equally as impressive is the confident but humble human being who puts God, family, his profession and those he cares about above all. Benson is also passionate about helping those in need. Residing in Arizona, Mr. Henderson routinely supports Arizona foster care charities including www.adoptuskids.org.
The Guy Review: First off, all of us here at the Guy Review are huge fans. Your fights against Frankie Edgar, Gilbert Melendez and Nate Diaz are some of my favorites of all time. Do you have a favorite fight that sticks out as most memorable?
Benson: Not really. It’s usually the last fight sticks out the most. With that being said my favorite was the Gilbert Melendez fight. That was the night I proposed to my wife. I’m usually a pretty private person so being able to share that moment with everyone on national television was special.
The Guy Review: How did you get into competing in mixed martial arts? You were a nationally recognized wrestler and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu world champion before your rise within the WEC, UFC and currently Bellator correct?
Benson: Trash talking and a dare led the way to mixed martial arts. I was wrestling at the time and after one of the hardest practices of our lives a bunch the guys and I started talking crap to each other. Everyone started talking about MMA fighting and if any of us would be any good. When my turn came some of the guys said I couldn’t do it. LOL One of my friends actually said I wouldn’t fight. He said “back it up” They actually dared me and three hours later I had my first MMA fight in Omaha Nebraska.
Yes I was a wrestling All-American and competed at the World Jiu-Jitsu Championships and currently signed with Bellator.
The Guy Review: Wow, did you win?
The Guy Review: Not only do you compete at the highest level, but over the years you have been extremely successful. Can you explain the passion, dedication and discipline it takes to become a champion?
Benson: My Mom is a hard worker. Growing up I saw how hard she worked and it rubbed off on me. For me, everything revolves around work ethic. To be amongst the best at anything you have to work harder than the next guy. I don’t care if you’re a rock star, fighter, plumber or whatever, if you want to be the best – prepare to put in WORK. It doesn’t matter what path you take or career you choose, but to be in the upper echelon of anything you better be the hardest worker in the room.
The Guy Review: Who’s your favorite fighter of all time?
Benson: I don’t really have one particular favorite fighter, but growing up if BJ Penn, Matt Hughes or Yves Edwards were fighting I had to watch it. They are definitely pioneers of the sport and opened doors for people like me get the opportunities I’ve been blessed with.
The Guy Review: Is it true you don’t drink or have ever smoked a cigarette or weed?
Benson: Yes, that is true. I made a decision when I was younger that I wouldn’t give in. Well does this count? Freshman year of college, someone offered me Dip. I put a big chunk of it under my bottom lip and ended up dry heaving and getting sick.
The Guy Review: That’s funny and not funny at the same time. Did you armbar your friend at least?
Benson: LOL Hmmmmmmm
The Guy Review: Wow, that must have been difficult. How have you managed to stay the course all these years?
Benson: Peer pressure never phased me. I think after high school the urge to smoke, drink, etc. and how people perceived it changes. In my 20’s when I told people I didn’t drink or smoke it wasn’t that big a deal and I’ve never been one to follow the crowd anyway.
The Guy Review: Let’s talk about something the ladies want to hear. How has life changed since you’ve been a father?
Benson: The best way to describe fatherhood in one word is “unbelievable”. It’s hard to put into words. The way I look at it, it’s not about me anymore. I came to the realization that I’m no longer the main character in the story. Now, my sons are the main characters and it’s my responsibility to prepare them for life so they can create their own story.
The Guy Review: Can you see some of the characteristics your boys take after you? Do you think either of them will take up martial arts?
Benson: I’ve actually never noticed. It’s my wife that usually points it out to me. They might take up martial arts, they might not. Either way I won’t force them. It’s up to them to forge their own path. All I can do is guide and mentor them with any dreams and goals they have. Now, when they get old enough I’ll tell them what’s it like if they want to know including the highs and lows.
The Guy Review: Hahaha could you imagine actually rolling with one or both of your sons? Would you take it easy on them?
Benson: No Way. Haha. I’m one of the most competitive people I know. I don’t care if it’s a championship fight or we’re playing tic tac toe. I’m there to win. You should see me play Monopoly. I can get down and bankrupt folks at Monopoly. Hahaha.
The Guy Review: What are some gentlemen tips or relationship advice you’ll hand down to your boys that you learned from your marriage?
Benson: You know the phrase “Happy Wife Happy Life”? Yeah that’s 100% true. In all seriousness they will understand that they have to be worthy of whoever they eventually choose. Respect, understanding, etc. all goes hand in hand. It’s a two way street though. Your partner also has to be worthy . If you’re both on the same page mentally then as a man you go to the ends of the earth for your other half. I’ll tell my boys to give it their all no matter what and always remember – we all came from a woman.
The Guy Review: Ah I see. A part of what I’m hearing is “Son, no chicken heads”. Haha
Benson: A lot more to it, but yeah something like that. LOL
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The Guy Review: What advice can you give anyone who chooses to follow their passions and dreams as you have?
Benson: Live your dreams and follow your passions. There’s always going to be people telling you that you’re going to fail and there will always be naysayers. I say if your heart and mind are in the same place – go for it. It’s important to be logical, smart and realistic though too. Above all nothing happens with incomplete effort, dedication and drive – hard work all day every day.
The Guy Review: Any last words for your fans?
Benson: Thank you for all of your support. I’ve definitely had my share of MMA highs and lows. While the lows are sometimes tough to deal with, the words of encouragement and support from all of you has helped me continue my career.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with us Benson. We wish you all the best with all of your endeavors.
For more information on helping foster kids in Arizona:
More info on “Smooth” available at www.smoothbensonhenderson.com
Benson Henderson is the definition of a modern-day renaissance man, mentor and role model. How many people out there double majored in college, became a wrestling all American, Jiu-Jitsu champion, WEC and UFC lightweight champion along with the roles of devoted husband and father? It’s up to our and future generations to lead and emulate people like Benson as an example of what a man can do with passion and drive.
-The Guy Review-
– Benson has two bachelor’s degrees; criminal justice and sociology.
– “Smooth” has two bronze medals; earned at the 2011 and 2014 World Jiu-Jitsu Championship’s.
– Amateur Wrestling All- American
– WEC lightweight Champion
– UFC lightweight Champion