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SIDELINES: How does it feel to get booed by 13,000 while proposing? Ask Benson Henderson

By CASEY OLSON
Federal Way Mirror Sports editor
April 26, 2013 · Updated 5:22 PM
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Decatur graduate Benson Henderson defended his UFC lightweight championship with a split decision win over Gilbert Melendez Saturday in San Jose. He then proposed to his girlfriend in the Octagon. / Lance Giles/For the Mirror

Benson Henderson’s nickname is Smooth, and that’s just what he was attempting to be Saturday night. I just don’t know if it actually worked out that way.

After retaining his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight championship with a controversial split decision victory over Gilbert Melendez inside San Jose’s HP Pavilion, Henderson asked his longtime girlfriend, Maria Magana, to marry him.

But the 2001 Decatur graduate didn’t employ the method that most men use to “pop the question.” Henderson did it in the middle of the Octagon in front of a live audience of 13,505 and a nationally-televised audience in the millions on Fox.

Talk about confidence. But confidence is likely not a problem for a man that gets in fights to pay his bills.

“I brought the ring with me just in case I decided to go through with it,” Henderson said. “I was on the fence all week doing interviews and stuff. Then I was like, ‘OK I’m going to do it. I’ve got to man up and do it.’”

Things worked out just fine for Henderson. He beat Melendez, and Magana said, “Yes.”

Seeing the proposal in person, it definitely wasn’t the most romantic thing ever produced. There’s no way Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams will be starring in the movie version.

Henderson asked for Magana’s hand in marriage over a deafening chorus of “boos” from a vast majority of the 13,505 in attendance. The fans were displeased with the decision that went against Melendez, who lives and trains in the San Jose area.

“I’m very aware of how small fighting really matters in the grand scheme of things — wife, kids, family,” Henderson said. “Seriously, fighting. There are a lot bigger things in life. I’m able to keep things in perspective.”

Henderson really couldn’t explain why he picked the middle of the Octagon to get engaged and share one of the biggest moments in his life with the spectators in the building and TV watchers at home.

Henderson even asked permission from the president of the UFC, Dana White (I have no idea if he asked Magana’s father, as well).

According to White, he really had no idea how to respond. Romantic marriage proposals and the UFC really don’t go hand-and-hand.

“Henderson’s an interesting character, man,” is all White had to say after the fight.

After chatting with Henderson for 15 minutes, however, White checked with the Fox television production crew and gave him “permission” to pop the question.

Henderson took home $200,000 for his efforts at UFC on Fox 7, the highest of the card. Henderson received $100,000 for an appearance fee and a $100,000 win bonus.

 


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