LOS ANGELES, CA – On this week’s UFC TONIGHT, Kenny Florian and guest host Daniel Cormier preview the upcoming FOX UFC SATURDAY. Then, they interview Benson Henderson and Josh Thomson about the upcoming main event. Plus Karyn Bryant and Ariel Helwani add reports.
UFC TONIGHT Host Daniel Cormier on Josh Thomson vs. Benson Henderson: “He’s extremely well rounded fighter. He can strike, wrestle, and he’s a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He has a difficult task at hand. Benson Henderson is coming off a loss to Anthony Pettis. Josh is in for a very long fight. Benson is always better coming after a loss.”
UFC TONIGHT Host Kenny Florian on Thomson: “People forget how long he’s been fighting at an elite level. He’s an elite fighter.”
Benson Henderson on losing his last fight to Anthony Pettis: “I made a mistake. It happens. It happens to Anderson Silva, to Georges St-Pierre, to Jon Jones. It’s a matter of making the mistake fewer and fewer times and making the opening smaller and smaller. Pettis capitalized on a mistake and I give credit to him.”
Henderson on what adjustments he’ll make after the last fight: “I made a mistake in the last fight, but I trust the process. At MMA Lab, we’ve been successful with the formula and we trust the process. It was a small mistake, so I don’t need new coaches, trainers or to make any changes. I just get need to get better every day and minimize the mistakes.”
Henderson on his approach to the fight: “It’s the same approach for all the fights. There’s a lot of extra hoopla every fight – this is the first time for main event or the first time on a main card, whatever. But you’ve got to go out there, have a good performance and get your hand raised. It’s the same fight as all the other fights in your career.”
Video: Full Henderson Interview:
Josh Thomson on having a bad training camp: “It was more or less about not having the training partners that I normally have to prepare for the fight. Gray Maynard was taking time out; Tyson Griffin had neck surgery and was out too. My three major training partners haven’t been there for the whole holiday period. It’s been quite in the gym.”
Thomson on if he’s ready for the fight: “I’ve been focusing how the fight’s going to go this week. The rest helps with the mental preparation. I’m starting to feel better, starting to feel more confident. Throughout the camp, you’re always tired and your mind starts playing tricks on you. This week it’s all mental preparation.”
Thomson on why fighting Henderson is tougher than fighting Anthony Pettis: “I say stylistically, with Pettis you already know what he’s going to do, keep the distance, circle, kick. Benson, he’ mixes it up, he’s a good wrestler, he’s got decent grappling.”
Thomson on if he’ll wait to fight the champ if he wins: “Any time you’re dealing with the UFC and what’s going to happen next, you let them make the decisions. All I can do is go out and win. I’m not going to wait for Pettis if I get the win. Look at Dominick Cruz. Guys can be out for a couple of years with injuries. I don’t plan on sitting on the sidelines, regardless if he’s ready or not.”
Florian on Henderson’s keys to victory: “He pressures a lot in his fights. He has to do that against Thomson. His keys are to use a lot of his leg kicks to slow Thomson down and slow his footwork. He’s got to work in the clinch and use his size and wrestling. He’s got to work the takedowns, and then control the top position in the takedowns.”
Cormier on Thomson’s keys to victory: “His footwork is the key for him and it lets him get the takedowns. When he gets you down he’s looking for submissions, which he gets. His keys are to control the range with punches and kicks and reverse kicks. He has to attack the body and land the takedowns, and mix things up so Ben has multiple things to think about.”
UFC TONIGHT Insider Ariel Helwani on when lightweight champion Anthony Pettis will return: “I spoke to Pettis yesterday and he said his knee rehab is going great and he expects a July return. His manager is targeting the July 5th fight in Las Vegas. And by the way, Anthony is picking Benson Henderson to win this weekend.”
Helwani on who Luke Rockhold wants to fight next: Luke told me he’s going to be in Chicago and he’s going to make an effort to convince the UFC to let him to fight Michael Bisping next. Rockhold really wants that fight. Rockhold also told me he wants to dabble at 205 as well.”
Helwani on Michael Bisping’s next fight: “His next fight isn’t 100-percent locked. He’s getting an eye test in London tomorrow. He’s developed a cataract in his eye. If he fails the test, then he won’t be able to fight yet.”
Helwani on if Vitor Belfort will apply for a TUE exception: “I spoke with Vitor yesterday and he said he’s on TRT and that his doctors said he has to be on it. This has been prescribed and he’s planning on applying to be on a TUE for the next fight.”
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UFC TONIGHT is the official weekly news and information show of the Ultimate Fighting Championship on FOX Sports 1. Veteran UFC fighter and multiple title contender Kenny Florian, light heavyweight Chael Sonnen, veteran combat sports journalist Karyn Bryant and three-time World MMA Awards Journalist of the Year Ariel Helwani bring you all the news and analysis.
Follow on Twitter at: @kennyflorian; @dc_mma; @arielhelwani; @KarynBryant; @UFCTonight; @FOXSports1