Former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson caught people by surprise when he responded to a challenge from Rustam Khabilov for a fight.
Not necessarily because Khabilov doesn’t deserve a top 155-pound fighter, but because it came around the same time that Khabib Nurmagomedov was seeking a challenger.
While Henderson stated at first there was no mix up in regards to his words, “Smooth” came clean during a recent interview on “UFC Tonight.” The two will meet this evening in the main event of UFC Fight Night 42 from New Mexico on FOX Sports 1.
“Sadly, that’s a true story,” Henderson said. “I saw a tweet and I saw a Russian name and I thought it was Khabib because they had a hard time finding him an opponent.”
Henderson (20-3) is coming off a split decision victory over Josh Thomson and remains in prime contention to compete for the belt he dropped to Anthony Pettis last year. Two of his three career defeats have come at the hands of Pettis, both costing him championship gold.
In Khabilov (17-1), Henderson will be facing an unbeaten UFC fighter and member of Jackson’s MMA. He will be the likely crowd favorite when the fighters enter the Octagon, but also presents plenty of challenges with his skill set.
“Hes a great Sambo guy, a world-class wrestler,” Henderson said. “Any time you’ve got two great grapplers going at it, it can end up being a stand up war.
“We’re ready for anything. A lot of grappling or a stand up war; just throwing a lot of bombs.”
FightLine will have complete coverage of the entire card, including live play-by-play, later tonight.
Front-Page Photo Credit: David Banks