Sports

Decatur grad, Benson Henderson, now undisputed WEC lightweight champion

Decatur graduate Ben Henderson (far right) will fight Jamie Varner to unify the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) lightweight (155-pound) championship at 7 p.m. in Sacramento on Jan. 10. Henderson is currently 10-1 in mixed martial arts action.  - Courtesy photo
Decatur graduate Ben Henderson (far right) will fight Jamie Varner to unify the World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC) lightweight (155-pound) championship at 7 p.m. in Sacramento on Jan. 10. Henderson is currently 10-1 in mixed martial arts action.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Benson "Smooth" Henderson is now the undisputed champion of World Extreme Cagefighting’s (WEC) lightweight division. The 2002 Decatur High School grad unified the WEC’s 155-pound title by defeating defending lightweight champion Jamie Varner Sunday night at ARCO Arena in Sacramento.

Henderson locked Varner in a guillotine choke out of nowhere midway through the third round during the main event on the nationally televised event.

Henderson had been crowned the interim champ after a decision win over Donald Cerrone in October, when injuries had sidelined Varner for the better part of 2009.

“Jamie is tough, he’s a scary dude,” Henderson said immediately following the fight. “I was a little intimidated at first. Thankfully, I came out on top.”

Although the fight was close, Varner appeared to be in control after the first two rounds. Varner’s biggest mistake ended up costing him however, when he left his neck exposed on a takedown attempt about two minutes into the third round. Henderson (11-1) took advantage, quickly getting a tap from Varner (16-3).

“I came to fight, Ben was the better man and he caught me with the guillotine,” Varner said after the fight. “I knew coming in that he had that guillotine ‚Ķ I was winning that fight. He didn’t want to box. I came to fight, Ben came to grapple, two different things.”

Henderson is currently on a 10-fight win streak in WEC and seven of those victories have come on stoppages.

Following a successful four years on the Dana College wrestling team, which culminated with an NAIA national team championship in 2006 and a fifth-place individual finish at 152 pounds, Henderson started training to become an MMA fighter. He was challenged by some wrestlers at Dana College to compete in a local show in Nebraska.

Henderson currently lives in Arizona and trains at The Lab MMA in Glendale. He is a Brazilian Ju-Jitsu instructor.

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