Ben Henderson Expects Fight of the Year Against Jim Miller, Talks 155-Pound Division
Trying to make sense of who ranks where in the UFC lightweight division is currently a hot-button issue between fans and journalists. But for Ben Henderson, who meets Jim Miller at UFC on Versus 5, the point is moot. He just wants to fight everyone.
"I want to dance with all of them," Henderson told US Combat Sports. "I want to dance with (Clay) Guida, I want to dance with (Melvin) Guillard, I want to dance with Miller, and I want to dance with Frankie Edgar. I want to see all of those guys because to be the best in the world you've got to beat all of them. I want to dance with all of them and beat all of them."
In just over a month Wisconsin will hold its first ever Ultimate Fighting Championship event with UFC on Versus 5 at the Bradley Center in Milwaukee. While headlined by a potential slugfest between Chris Lytle and Dan Hardy, much of the event's early talk has centered upon a title eliminator between Henderson and Miller.
Coming off of a unanimous decision victory over Mark Bocek in his UFC debut, Henderson (13-2) has shaken off the highly publicized loss to Anthony Pettis in December and reemerged as a possible championship contender. Miller stands in his way first.
"Jim is a tough opponent," said Henderson. "He has good hands, good wrestling, good jiu-jitsu, and doesn't really have any glaring weaknesses. He is a really tough fighter and a good matchup for me."
Miller, who trains out of AMA Fight Club, is one of the 155-pound division's most accomplished competitors. Holding a career record of 20-2, Miller's only losses have come via decision against division leaders Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard. He is currently riding a seven-fight win streak.
"I'm definitely excited for this matchup because of how high up there he is ranked," Miller's next opponent said. "Dana White is on record talking about how high Miller is up on the ladder at 155. I'm excited to dance with him."
Gauging the Division
Given Miller's long-term success and his proximity to a title shot, a victory for Henderson would put him in elite company among fellow lightweights. He talked about a few of his counterparts and how he feels about possibly facing them in the future.
Clay Guida "I love the hair," Henderson laughed. "Energetic and a great matchup that fans would love to see."
Melvin Guillard "Explosive. That boy is explosive. A fight between him and I would be explosive. You would see some fireworks in the cage. Not many guys can match up with me in terms of athleticism, not many can match up with his athleticism, and if we get in the cage you'll see some fireworks."
Gilbert Melendez "That would be a fun one. I actually get that question a lot about Gil and how he is. He's from the Scrap Pack with the Diaz brothers and any of those guys from there are down for a scrap. It doesn't matter where and it doesn't matter when because they are just always down for a fight. It'd be fun."
Anthony Pettis (Long pause with huge smile) "That would be awesome. I eagerly anticipate the day to see Showtime again. Nothing bad towards him, he's a good guy and I wish him all the best success, but the competitor in me definitely wants to see him in that cage again."
Fighting Fives Every Time
Last month UFC president Dana White announced that every card would implement five-round main events, regardless if a title is on the line. And while UFC on Versus 5 will avoid the new rules, and Henderson vs. Miller is officially the co-main event, the MMA Lab fighter was all for the decision.
"I love that new rule and I wish all of my fights were five rounds," said Henderson. "For my career, the pinnacle or the peak is to all be five rounds, so why would you not want that? For me personally, cardio has always been something I've used to my advantage and something I've excelled at. Any five-round wars I'm down for."
Never Stop Improving
Known for his tremendous work ethic, ridiculous talent, and humility, Henderson has emerged as one of the sport's top 155-pound competitors. He said that his desire to constantly improve is one of the main reasons that he will be successful against Miller on August 14.
"I am not the best at anything I do but will be. I'm not ever satisfied and I won't ever be. I'm not the best wrestler, I'm not the best boxer, I'm not the best at Muay Thai, and I'm not the best at jiu-jitsu. I know I have a lot of work to do and I'm okay with that."
He hopes fans around Wisconsin will come out to the Bradley Center so that he can display his constant improvement.
"I think everybody should come out on August 14 to watch Jim Miller and I dance because it's going to be explosive and it's going to be a great matchup. Two guys are going to go at it for the entire 15 minutes. He doesn't get tired, I don't get tired, and it's going to be a fight of the year candidate."