Benson Henderson doesn’t like Michael Chandler. But the former UFC champion doesn’t think that’s particularly relevant as their revenge at Bellator 243 approaches.
A push after the then champion’s fight at Bellator 165, Henderson’s first meeting with Chandler, left a lasting impression that echoed in subsequent interviews. Henderson prefers not to dwell on this negativity, but it’s about the fight, and the controversy sells.
“Reporters, you’re smart,” the lightweight veteran said Wednesday during a virtual media day in support of Friday’s rematch at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. “You ask the right questions to get the answer you want. hear – “So, uh, what do you think of his shoes?” I don’t really like his shoes. “Oh, you don’t like his shoes, so you have a problem with his personality?” You don’t like it, right? No! I just said I don’t like his shoes!
“For me, I don’t really like Chandler, but it’s not that bad. I don’t have to like everyone. You don’t have to like your coworkers. You don’t have to love your family, your siblings. You must love them, but you must not love them too much.
“I don’t necessarily think Michael Chandler is my cup of tea. But I don’t think he really cares that I don’t like him as a person. I don’t think this is a great stand-up, Dudley Do-Right. I think he likes to portray this picture, but I don’t think he’s necessarily like that in his heart, but what does my opinion of someone else matter? We are in a fist fight. We don’t need to be friends, anyway. I don’t necessarily like it, but journalists keep talking about it. It’s not that bad, but yeah, I don’t really like it.
For Henderson, his feelings for Chandler are irrelevant from the opening bell. He plans to avenge a loss that he says was poorly rated, and leaves no doubt to his opponent that he is the better man. That’s at least part of the reason her past with Chandler irritates her.
“I know I won this fight,” said Henderson. “He was an almost broken man from this fourth round to the fifth. I look him in the eye after the fight, and he knows he’s lost. How many guys have had bad blood and quarrels, and what happens after the fight? They shake hands. They say something, they shake hands. But a fighter pushing another fighter after a fight, after 25 minutes of trying to beat the person, after the bell rings and then you push them? To me that shows a serious part of your character there, and that he knew he had lost.
Heading into Saturday, a win could be more important than ever for Chandler, who fulfills the final obligation of his current contract with Bellator. Henderson could not only recoup a victory, but significantly weaken his rival’s negotiating position for the future.
In theory, a victory could also set up a trilogy. After all, the pair are two of the greatest lightweight to ever compete in the Bellator cage, and there aren’t many that occupy that rarefied air. But that’s a question for later.
Henderson can at least recognize that Chandler is a great fighter and not all of his opponent’s actions are grateful to him.
“He adopted a child,” said the former UFC champion. “Crazy respect to him for that for him and his wife adopting a child.” I hope my wife and I will also have the chance to adopt some children and change their lives. I don’t have a lot of respect for some other things, but I don’t think he really cares.
Either way, they hit each other in the face on Friday, just like any other working day.