If given the opportunity to talk to Ben Henderson, what would you ask? I'm guessing the route I picked is different than what you've read else where. I wanted to let the dust settle a bit from his recent media 'tour' and catch him after he had had a chance to rest up a bit. Yeah, come to find out that doesn't really happen with Ben. When he should be enjoying his new title of WEC Lightweight Champion and basking in the sun and eating bon-bons, he's relieving his mother from her job and working in her convenience store up to 17 hours a day. And I don't mean he's showing up and signing autographs. Instead of wearing his new shiny belt he's wearing a store apron. He grew up with a mother that worked multiple jobs. And now being a small business owner, she finds herself working even more hours than before. When I asked Ben about it he said something about it being about his culture (he's part Korean). But the more I talked to him it became clear there's more to it than that. When he has something in front of him he only knows to work hard.
For example his pending wedding. Yep, sorry ladies Ben is 'taken'. Over the Christmas holiday he got engaged to his girl Katie. Mind you the wedding isn't until November OF NEXT YEAR but because Ben is so focused and a hard worker, he's already created their wedding website and picked the music. He said "I wanted to be a part of the planning process and figured this is when I'm available to do my part. I'm going to begin training for my next fight soon and know I won't have as much time to help out." You can hear the excitement in his voice. And what a great team they'll make. She's currently going to school to be an occupational therapist!
When I asked him about his strong views on religion again he embraced the conversation, almost proud. Saying his mother brought them (Ben and his brother) up to be Christians. He grew up in the church and attended youth group on Wednesdays and church on Sunday. His mom wanted them to fit and christianity was a way of doing that. He said as he got older and was in college he saw other perspectives and decided that in fact having the strong belief and living the christian lifestyle was the right choice for him.
Okay, so I couldn't help but ask about the belt. Where is it? What does one do with a title belt? I've seen a few guys hang them up at their gym. He laughed and said "I don't know where it is right now. Sometimes my friends like to take it to the mall and show it off. But, I do keep it at the gym.."
Then I asked him about his future. Does he see himself moving over to the UFC? In a pointed and passionate tone he said "I want to be the best at what I do. I want to be the best fighter. Like Michael Jordon was in his sport, I want to be that in mine. In order to be the best I know I need to fight the best. Give me the top 155 pounders on the planet."
That, my friends, is who Ben Henderson is. The SmoothOne.
Please follow Ben on Twitter at twitter.com/SmoothOne155