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Henderson makes weight, but GSP fight looms

Franklin McNeil, ESPN.com
April 20, 2013 « Live County Championship coverage | Chartbeat test »
UFC Road to the Octagon: Benson Henderson v Gilbert Melendez

UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson and challenger Gilbert Melendez both made weight on Friday for their title showdown in San Jose, California.

With everything set for Saturday's UFC on Fox 7 main event, president Dana White tapped each guy's shoulder to signal they were free to go their separate ways for the next 24 hours. But that doesn't mean it necessarily had been smooth sailing up until that point.

Melendez had no difficulty upholding his end of the deal, checking in at 154lbs. For Henderson, however, there was a brief moment of suspense. Before stepping on the scale, the defending champion began removing all of his clothing. Henderson instructed UFC officials to hold up a towel, shielding him from the peering eyes of excited fans.

Such action is indicative of a fighter unsure he would make the mandatory championship-bout weight limit. By removing every stitch of clothing before stepping on the scale, Henderson knew he was cutting it very close. Fortunately, a completely unclothed Henderson tipped the scale at exactly 155lbs, making the bout official. No harm, no foul.

Henderson has removed all of his clothing before stepping on the scale in the past. But this time he lacked his usual look of confidence, which offered a glimpse into Henderson's fighting future as it's getting tougher for him to make the weight on a regular basis.

Never one to shy away from the issue, Henderson openly addressed it recently with ESPN.com when the topic of a superfight against UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre arose. As his body continues to grow and get stronger, Henderson is under the impression that size won't be an issue if a bout with St-Pierre is made.

"I'm getting older," Henderson said. "I'm 29 now, almost 30. At my age it's getting hard for me to make the weight class at 155. So, I wouldn't mind having a break and having one fight at 170 - having a St-Pierre fight."

While he expressed interest in the fight, Henderson made it clear he has no intention of abandoning the lightweight division. His long-term goal remains the same: to be recognised as the greatest mixed martial artist ever.

But by mentioning a fight with St-Pierre at 170lbs, it's a way for Henderson to convey he is starting to feel the effects of cutting weight and wants to avoid diminishing his high performance level in the Octagon.

"I want to maintain my integrity," Henderson said. "I don't want to be one of those guys who cut 20lbs of water weight and I step in the cage and look sloppy or look fat and don't perform well. I want to make sure that I am fully prepared. It's not just about making weight. It's about maintaining that strict diet, that strict lifestyle. And it gets harder and harder as guys get older - you fill out more. And I'm getting older.

"I had the metabolism of a 19-year-old when I was 25. But now that I'm 29, my metabolism is like that of a 25-year-old. I'm still ahead of the curve, but I am slowing down. I have to work that much harder, but I can still make 155 for the rest of my career. I can do it. I'm not against doing it."

Henderson isn't making an unprecedented request. UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva has competed several times at 205lbs, which allows him to remain sharp while giving his lean body a respite from cutting a significant amount of weight.

Silva hasn't competed at 205 often - just three times during his nearly seven years with UFC. And Henderson isn't requesting anything more than an occasional 170lb event.

"Like the way Anderson Silva does it - have a fight at 205 every once in a while and always make 185, his weight class," Henderson said. "I'd be okay with that - staying at 155, making weight at 155 for the rest of my career. But every once in a while, having a super fight at 170 - St-Pierre and I squaring off. I'd be cool with that."

UFC on Fox weigh-in results:
Benson Henderson (155) v Gilbert Melendez (154)
Daniel Cormier (235) v Frank Mir (257)
Nate Diaz (156) v Josh Thomson (155)
Matt Brown (171) v Jordan Mein (170)
Darren Elkins (145) v Chad Mendes (146)
Francis Carmont (186) v Lorenz Larkin (186)
Myles Jury (156) v Ramsey Nijem (156)
Joseph Benavidez (125) v Darren Uyenoyama (125)
Jorge Masvidal (156) v Tim Means (156)
TJ Dillashaw (136) v Hugo Viana (135)
Roger Bowling (156) v Anthony Njokuani (155)
Clifford Starks (185.5) v Yoel Romero (185)

Franklin McNeil. This article originally appeared on ESPN.com

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