Lightweight contender Ben “Smooth” Henderson finally admits to a secret he once kept close to the vest. For most of his professional fighting career, the Arizona native couldn’t see the punches his opponents launched at him. But it wasn’t for reasons you might assume.
Henderson wasn’t blinded by his opponents precision striking or lightning speed. Rather, the 25-year-old had such poor vision that he could barely make out figures and objects just feet in front of him. Shortly following his knockout win over Shane Roller in April, Henderson took the first steps toward correcting the problem. The results have been incredible for the well-spoken Taekwondo black belt.
“I have recently had surgery to correct my vision so I have been enjoying the ability to actually see my opponents,” Henderson said during a break from training. “Prior to my eye surgery, I used to memorize the seeing-eye chart to get through the vision test, but I was unable to really see before. The WEC gloves being blue really helped me out, letting me see the blue blur to avoid punches. In my first WEC fight, I missed a kick and my opponent was right in front of me. That wasn’t nervous energy as some might have thought. That was my vision problem putting me at risk. In this camp, I have tried to balance my awareness with my newfound vision.”
Considering he put together a 9-1 record with the vision issues, one must wonder how dangerous “Smooth” is now that his sight is perfect. No longer reliant on the fashionable, black-rimmed glasses that once donned his face, Henderson boasts a higher confidence level than ever before. With an interim lightweight title fight against Donald Cerrone rapidly approaching, Henderson now envisions himself walking out of the Covelli Centre on Sept. 2 with the interim lightweight title. Simply put, Ben Henderson can see the light.
“The WEC has hired me to fight like a champion, to perform for the fans,” Henderson, who has trained with UFC vets Edgar Garcia and Efrain Escudero for this fight, said. “My goal is to do just that. I want the good people of Ohio to remember our fight and the MMA fans around the world to know that I belong fighting for the WEC World Title. I can assure you that I won’t stop and the fans will be entertained.
“Donald is a tough fighter and has the heart of a champion,” Henderson added. “I expect him to be on point with his striking and the only way to finish Donald is go all out and leave nothing on the table. That’s what I plan to do.”
Tickets for Cerrone vs. Henderson are on sale now and priced at $25, $45, $75, and $125. Tickets may be purchased by calling Ticketmaster Charge-By-Phone at 1-800-745-3000 or by visiting the Covelli Centre Box Office. Purchases can also be made at Covelli Centre retail locations, including Giant Eagle and Macy’s stores in the Youngstown area. Tickets also are available online through www.wec.tv or www.ticketmaster.com.
Cerrone vs. Henderson will be televised nationally live on VERSUS beginning at 9:00 p.m. ET/6:00 p.m. PT. All of the network’s live WEC events are presented in HD and Spanish language SAP where available. For more information and how to find VERSUS in your local viewing area, visit http://www.versus.com/findversus.