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UFC: Benson Henderson named 'Fighter of the Year' for 2012

Decatur grad Benson Henderson finished 2012 with a perfect 3-0 record with the UFC lightweight title on the line and was named the
Decatur grad Benson Henderson finished 2012 with a perfect 3-0 record with the UFC lightweight title on the line and was named the 'Fighter of the Year.'
— image credit: Courtesy of UFC

Benson Henderson had quite a 2012 and the honors keep rolling in for the Decatur High School graduate.

Henderson’s year included winning the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight championship by beating former title holder Frankie Edgar in Tokyo at UFC 144 in February. It continued with August’s unanimous decision over Edgar in Denver and ended with a thrashing of Nate Diaz inside Seattle’s KeyArena last month.

The perfect 2012 got even better earlier this week when Henderson was named UFC.com’s Fighter of the Year. Henderson outdistanced second-place Jon “Bones” Jones, the UFC light heavyweight champion, in the voting.

“It’s an honor to be named the Fighter of the Year,” Henderson told Bleacher Report. “When I fight, I want the fans, the media, everybody, to take notice of my fights and enjoy the show. Recognition like this just proves that the plan my coaches, training partners and I have had in place going into each fight is effective and people are taking notice.”

Henderson (17-2 overall) is a perfect 6-0 in the UFC since moving over from the smaller World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) organization two years ago. Henderson held the WEC lightweight championship for over a year before having his 10-fight win streak snapped by Anthony “Showtime” Pettis in December 2010.

Since the loss to Pettis, Henderson has steamrolled five 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 2011 before winning another unanimous decision over Clay Guida in November 2011 at UFC on FOX in Anaheim. The wins set up his first title fight with Edgar.

“To beat Frankie Edgar twice and to go out there and do what he did against Diaz just shows you how incredibly talented Benson Henderson is,” UFC President Dana White said. “He had an amazing year.”

Henderson has long said that his goal is to dominate the UFC’s lightweight division, the deepest in the UFC, and make a run at Anderson Silva’s all-time title defense record, which stands at 10 wins in a row.

Henderson, 29, began his wrestling career during his time at Lakota Middle School and continued wrestling at Decatur, where he competed under head coach Mike Bressler. He went on to wrestle at Dana College in Nebraska and actually started MMA fighting a year after a dare from a couple of wrestlers.

Henderson joins some very elite company by winning UFC.com’s Fighter of the Year. Previous winners include champions like Jones, Edgar, Georges St-Pierre, Rashad Evans and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.

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