Benson ‘Smooth’ Henderson is going back to the division that served him so well for so many years, as he’s set to take on Patricio ‘Pitbull’ Freire in a number one contender fight for the lightweight championship in the main event of Bellator 160 at the Honda Centre in Anaheim, California on August 26th.
Coming into his promotional debut with a ton of hype and promotion, Henderson fell to a unanimous decision loss to the current welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov at Bellator 153. He now drops down back down to 155lbs and will take on former featherweight champion Freire with the winner poised for a title shot against Mike Chandler.
Henderson of course is no stranger to the lightweight division having dominated the UFC’s 155lbs weight class as champion over a two year period (2011-2013) with successful defences over Frankie Edgar, Nate Diaz and Gilbert Melendez.
The pressure will be on ‘The Once and Future King’ as going 0-2 in Bellator would no doubt be considered less than satisfactory for a fighter of his stature, record and ability.
Upon the announcement Henderson took to social media proclaiming he was… “signed for big time fights!”
It’s a brilliant piece of match making by Bellator as regardless of who wins, it sets up a very marketable fight for Chandler at a future date. Should Henderson win, then Chandler would have the opportunity to silence the critics and legitimatise his claim as the best 155’er in the world by beating a former UFC lightweight champion.
In the case of Freire winning, then you set up a revenge story after Chandler brutally knocked out Patricio’s brother, Patricky, at Bellator 157 last month to claim the vacant lightweight championship. Following the win, Chandler climbed the cage to celebrate when Patricio approached him and the two exchanged heated words.
* Tickets for Bellator 160: Henderson vs. Pitbull will start at $30 and will be available to purchase at Ticketmaster and the Honda Centre Box Office from this Friday, with an exclusive Bellator Nation pre-sale available on Thursday.