Benson Henderson doesn’t think May-Mac set a good precedent for combat sports.
To the surprise of many, the boxing superfight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Conor McGregor actually turned out to be an entertaining and somewhat competitive bout.
McGregor, the current UFC lightweight champion, was finished in the 10th round but put up a good fight and landed frequently in the early rounds.
Many were impressed with the show, but former WEC and UFC lightweight champ Benson Henderson thought it was a freak show and made a mockery of combat sports.
Speaking to Brett Okamoto of ESPN in a recent interview, ‘Bendo’, who now competes under the Bellator banner, compared May-Mac to the fixed outcomes in professional wrestling.
“People will start to view us like WWE,” Henderson said. “You start having freak shows like that — mock contests — and bill them as real? That’s not the way to go.
“Soon, you’ll see fights that are basically worked. ‘Oh, this guy will win, but it will be really close first.’ One guy is carrying the other, for the sake of millions. How close to the edge are we talking to a worked fight? How close to that line do we want to get? Let’s be honest. Let’s call it like we see it.”
Henderson, who is gearing up to face Patricky Freire later this month at Bellator 183, believes Mayweather ‘carried’ ‘The Notorious’ and dragged the fight into the later rounds instead of finishing him earlier.
“It’s a very slippery slope when you have a world champion boxer fighting an MMA guy for the sake of money, and he can’t knock him out in the first round,” he said. “He has to make sure he carries him a lttle bit. For me, that’s too close to skirting the edge [of a fixed fight].
“I think Floyd even said that to a certain extent. He threw six punches in the first round. Would you not call that suspect? Make sure it lasts a couple rounds, then put him away whenever you want? That’s detrimental to the integrity of MMA, to people buying a fight thinking, ‘Oh no, this isn’t fake. It’s real. These guys aren’t carrying each other.'”
McGregor, 29, is expected to return to the UFC although former two-weight boxing champ Paulie Malignaggi is trying to lure the Irishman back into the boxing ring for a grudge match.
Henderson will take on ‘Pitbull’ at Bellator 183 on September 23 at the SAP Center in San Jose, California.