Benson Henderson’s welterweight debut for his new home, Bellator MMA, didn’t go according to plan. Taking on Andrey Koreshkov in April, “Smooth” looked undersized and out-powered. He simply had no answer for Koreshkov, and for the first time in a long while, looked small in the cage. The unanimous decision loss at Bellator 153 snapped a two fight win streak (under the UFC banner) that Henderson had compiled at welterweight, and signaled the need for him to return to the weight class where he once reigned supreme, lightweight.

While dropping back down in weight may have been a difficult decision (pride is ever-present in the fight game), it’s a smart move on Henderson’s part. In reality, he’s a fighter who needs to be in the title mix, and frankly, Bellator hired him to be a big star. While the loss to Koreshov was a win for Henderson in that he proved he had a ton of heart, it was still a loss. Now he needs a win, in the right division. A division full of stars like Josh Thompson, Michael Chandler, and Patricio Freire — who he will meet in August in Anaheim, California. Bellator confirmed the bout Saturday.

The winner of Henderson vs. Patricio Pitbull will no doubt be on tap for a title shot against Chandler, arguably Bellator’s biggest homegrown star. A former champ at featherweight, Freire is no easy out, and defended his title twice after winning it from Pat Curran. However, he’ll be giving up a ton of size here, just as Henderson did at welterweight. In all likelihood, this should be the fight that sets Benson Henderson up for the biggest fight of his Bellator career.

Should he lose to either Pitbull, or Chandler, he may be written off as a bust in Bellator, but for now, Smooth remains a key part of their roster moving forward: a go-to fighter who can always be counted on to take big fights, and make them competitive.

Freire, meanwhile, jumps into the division his brother Patricky has fought in for years. The elder Pitbull brother was knocked out by Chandler in June when the two competed for the vacant lightweight title.

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.