UFC: Federal Way's Benson Henderson will defend title at KeyArena Dec. 8

Decatur High School graduate Benson Henderson will defend his UFC lightweight championship belt inside Seattle
Decatur High School graduate Benson Henderson will defend his UFC lightweight championship belt inside Seattle's KeyArena Dec. 8 against Nate Diaz. It will be Henderson's second title defense.
— image credit: Lance Giles/For the Mirror

Benson Henderson is coming home to defend his UFC lightweight championship belt.

The nationally-televised UFC on Fox 5 will land at Seattle's KeyArena for the upcoming Dec. 8 card featuring the 155-pound lightweight title fight between Henderson and Nate Diaz. It will be Henderson's second title defense after he beat Frankie Edgar earlier this month at UFC 150 in Denver.

The Decatur High School graduate revealed the news that he would be fighting for the first time in his home state on Twitter Tuesday night.

"Yes tweeps, for those who haven't heard next dance is Dec. 8th at KeyArena in SEATTLE," Henderson tweeted. "I still have my 253 area code, always (representing)…"

The official news of Seattle hosting the Fox event was revealed during an episode of “UFC Tonight” on Fuel TV Tuesday night. In addition to Henderson’s headlining bout with Diaz, UFC on Fox 5 will also see Brazilian Mauricio “Shogun” Rua take on Swedish prospect Alexander Gustafsson, and former two-division champion and one of the UFC's all-time greats, B.J. Penn, battle rising Canadian talent Rory MacDonald.

The last time the UFC appeared in Seattle was for UFC Fight Night 24 in March 2011. The card drew 13,741 people to KeyArena.

Henderson (16-2 overall) is a perfect 5-0 in the UFC since moving over from the smaller World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) organization. Henderson, who now lives and trains in Glendale, Ariz., held the WEC lightweight championship for over a year before having his 10-fight win streak snapped by Anthony "Showtime" Pettis in December 2011.

Since the loss to Pettis and the eventual takeover of the WEC by the UFC, Henderson has steamrolled four of the UFC’s top contenders in very impressive fashion.

He beat Canada’s Mark Bocek by unanimous decision in front of 55,000 fans in Toronto in April 2011. Henderson then stopped Jim Miller’s seven-match UFC win streak in August before winning another unanimous decision over Clay Guida in November at UFC on FOX in Anaheim. He then beat Edgar at UFC 144 in Japan to win the UFC 155-pound title and won the rematch Aug. 11.

Diaz earned No. 1 contender in the lightweight division with three-straight wins over Jim Miller, Donald Cerrone and Takanori Gomi. Diaz is 16-7 during his mixed-martial arts career.

Henderson will get a lot of home cooking when he returns to the Puget Sound area in December. Both Henderson's mother, Song, and his brother, Julius, still live in the Federal Way area.

Henderson credits his mother with instilling his hard-working attitude. As a single mother, she owned three businesses during his childhood and worked 17-hour days, six days a week. Sundays were her easy day. She “only” worked 14 hours.

Song Henderson now owns and operates a small convenience store, Peter’s Grocery, in Tacoma.

Henderson, 28, began his wrestling career during his time at Lakota Middle School and continued wrestling at Decatur, where he competed under head coach Mike Bressler.

His prep career culminated with a second-place finish at the 2001 Mat Classic state wrestling championships inside the Tacoma Dome, losing in the 135-pound title match.

After Decatur, Henderson went on to wrestle at Dana College in Nebraska, where he earned NAIA All-American honors as a senior after finishing in fifth place at 157 pounds in 2006. Henderson’s performance helped Dana College win the NAIA national championship that year.

He actually started MMA fighting a year after a dare from a couple of Dana wrestlers, but has never fought in Washington.

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