Former UFC lightweight champion turned Bellator contender Benson Henderson loves comic books.
Actually, that’s sort of an understatement,
Nicknamed “Smooth,” the MMA Lab product has routinely lived up to his moniker with his calm demeanor and nonchalant attitude towards promoting his fights. But the same can’t be said when it comes to the pages of his favorite comic books.
Henderson becomes uncharacteristically animated when discussing his pastime of going to his local comic book shop and often reminisces over some of his favorite titles like Superman and New Mutants.
But one character in particular left a long lasting impression on Henderson: The mutant Shatterstar.
Created by Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza in 1991, Shatterstar is a genetically engineered warrior with enhanced physical capabilities created for the sole purpose of serving as as a gladiator on the planet Mojoworld.
Still with me? Good.
For Henderson, this battle-born hero struck close to home.
“Shatterstar was born and bred as a warrior,” Henderson told MMAFighting. “He was created to do this. To me — the dorky part of me — was always like, ‘Oh yeah, I was born for this, I was made for this, I was bred for this,’ so I always connected with Shatterstar in that I was created and bred for fighting.
“When I was doing Taekwondo and wrestling when I was younger, in my head I kept thinking I was made for this. I was more flexible, I was faster, I had better cardio. I was born to do Taekwondo because I was flexible and could throw good kicks. I was made for this. So I liked that part of Shatterstar.”
As the story goes, Shatterstar escaped his lifetime of war, eventually teaming with characters such as Cable and Domino before becoming a founding member of X-Force.
A self proclaimed “huge X-Force fan,” Henderson paused, as if in deep thought, for a moment while going over his favorite storylines.
“I might actually change my answer from Shatterstar to Cable,” laughed Henderson. “I was a huge Cable fan growing up.”
Almost immediately the conversation shifts to the recent Deadpool 2 film, which featured Cable, Shatterstar, and Domino. Too bad Henderson, a father of two young boys, still hasn’t had a chance to see his childhood heroes on the silver screen.
Even so, Henderson couldn’t help but voice his complaints on the “lame” casting choice of his favorite character.
“I wasn’t a big fan of Josh Brolin as Cable because, for one, he’s already Thanos [in The Avengers film series],” lamented Henderson. “You have a thousand different actors to choose from. Why did you pick the same guy who’s already in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Thanos and have him play Cable? You can pick somebody else.”
So who would Henderson choose to play the role of the cybernetic solider from the future?
“I saw a pretty dope concept art from BossLogic and he did Brad Pitt as Cable,” Henderson said, laughing.
In terms of his actual fighting career, Henderson is slated to take on Bellator veteran Saad Awad in the co-main event of Bellator 208 this weekend.
Awad (23-9), the Bellator season 8 lightweight tournament runner-up, is currently riding a four-fight win streak, which includes knockouts over Zach Freeman and Ryan Couture. Having made his promotional debut in 2013, “The Assassin” has spent nearly half of his professional career inside the Bellator cage.
With 17 stoppage wins under his belt, 10 by (T)KO and seven by submission, Henderson was quick to point to Awad’s killer-instinct on both his feet and on the canvas as his greatest weapon.
“He has good, decent power in his hands”, said Henderson on what he expects against Awad. “It’s what he’s known for. He’s super well-rounded. That’s what you want to be as a fighter. He’s for sure one of those guys who’s well-rounded and has good power in his hands. But he definitely has holes in his game though. So it’s my job to make him expose the holes and take advantage of them.”
As for which superhero he would compare his upcoming opponent to, Henderson admits he struggles to pinpoint a comic book counterpart for Awad.
“I hate being put on the spot,” said Henderson. “I’d have to do due diligence. Like how he would apply his skills and what he’d do and how he’d do as as comic book character. So I’d need a little bit of time to think about Mr. Awad and see who his character would be.”
Bellator 208 goes down on Oct. 13 inside the Nassau Coliseum. A heavyweight fight between Fedor Emelianenko and Chael Sonnen will serve as the main event.