No, we are not jumping on the Nate Diaz bandwagon. Not yet, at least.
In a recent interview with MMAJunkie, current UFC lightweight champion Ben Henderson resentfully admitted something that no athlete is ever quick to declare: He ain’t getting any younger. And because of this, it is getting harder and harder for a massive lightweight such as “Smooth” to make the required cut for each of his title defenses. How much weight does he cut? Henderson didn’t reveal the exact number, but several close sources claimed that the lightweight champ normally resides around the 180-pound mark often up to just a few days out from fight night. It’s a massive, draining cut for any athlete to undergo, and as we’ve seen in the past, can have devastating effects on the human body. Henderson is no different, and acknowledged that he has struggled to deal with the cut as he has gotten older:
When I was in college and wrestling, I would wrestle all day long and not get tired. I remember wrestling hard for five hours – literally five hours hard – and be just fine. I would eat friggin’ Taco Bell, be fine, and wrestle again.
I’m growing, but as far as maturing and getting thicker, I think I’m getting older right now, and it’s getting harder for me to lose the weight … and it’s harder for me to keep the weight off.
Henderson’s UFC on FOX 5 opponent, Nate Diaz, is no stranger to the difficulty of weight cutting, having moved up to welterweight to fight on several occasions but finding much less success there. The same could be argued for Henderson, who stands at a mere 5 foot 9 and would hold a distinct size disadvantage were he to move up in weight. But according to Henderson, it is only a matter of time until the choice is no longer an option.
When asked whether or not the cut to lightweight would be “too much” as he put it at some point down the line, Henderson stated that ”to a certain extent, yes.” A hard revelation for any athlete, let alone the champion of a division, to come to. The obvious comparison to make here is to that of light heavyweight champion Jon Jones, who has stated on several occasions that the light heavyweight division can only hold him for so long. But where Jones would maintain the longest reach in the UFC were he to move to heavyweight, Benson’s reach is more than six inches shy of current welterweight champion Georges. St Pierre. Considering the trouble Henderson had landing his combinations on the much smaller Frankie Edgar in their second fight, these kinds of disadvantages could prove too great to overcome were he to move up a class.
But for now, it is all speculation, as Henderson has his sights set on the Stockton native — who has been relatively quiet in the months leading up to their fight — and their upcoming clash on December 8th. Let’s just hope Hendo doesn’t plan on sporting a cowboy hat at the weigh-ins, or things could get ugly in a hurry.
So what do you think, Potato Nation? Does Henderson’s plight serve as a prime example of the problems caused by the massive weight cuts MMA fighters endure to gain a slight advantage? As we’ve seen in the resurgence of Anthony Johnson as a light heavyweight – not to mention Edgar’s success at 155 — the idea of fighting at one’s natural weight class can prove beneficial in terms of career longevity. Then again, Johnson is able to hold his own in a bigger weight class because of the insane size advantage he used to hold at welterweight, whereas Henderson would essentially become the small fish in a big pond were he to move up.
*knock on wood*