Former UFC lightweight champion Ben Henderson was a major signing for Bellator back in 2016, but so far things haven’t gone according to plan there for the star.
Henderson lost out by split decision to Patricky Friere on Saturday night at Bellator 183 in a close, but fairly uneventful fight, following on from another coming out on the wrong end of a split decision against current champion Michael Chandler last November.
In total that means that Henderson has now gone just 1-3 during his time in Bellator, far below the expectations people had for him when he first arrived, and now the 33-year-old admits that something has to change.
“I think that either way, win or lose, I need to stop having close fights,” Henderson told MMAjunkie after Bellator 183. “[People say], ‘Oh, it was kind of close, maybe you could have won, you could have lost.’ Like, those close fights are killing me. It’s always nice to win a close fight, win a close split decision, but just being in close decision, close split decision, split decision (all in a row) – those are just too close to have. You can’t have those. You have to have a better performance win or lose. You got to be in more decisive battles. It sucks.”
Split decision verdicts are nothing new for Henderson. After all, during his title reign in the UFC he experienced them against the likes of Frankie Edgar and Gilbert Melendez, while the final fight of his contract with Jorge Masvidal went the same way, but the difference on those occasions was that it was he who ended up getting his hand raised.
That’s not the case anymore, but Henderson has yet to pinpoint exactly why that is.
“I think if I had a technical reason for it, maybe cage control or damage done while you have the cage control. Maybe the number of significant strikes thrown from cage control. You’ve got to find the way to word it, exactly. For whatever reason, earlier on, I was winning those really close decisions, and I’ll take it. Now I’m not winning close decisions, so I have to do better. I have to be better to get my hand raised in those close decisions.”
Not long after joining Bellator, Henderson began floating the idea of retiring in the not-to-distant future, but despite that he insists that a lack of desire is not the reason for his losing slump.
“When you get to a point where you’re losing and it doesn’t hurt, it doesn’t sting and you’re like, ‘Oh, I lost another one; oh, well’ [then you should retire]. This burns my soul. This does not feel good. It is burning inside.”