IRVINE, Calif. — UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson showed promise early on, but fell short in the third round at the 2013 Pan Jiu-Jitsu Championship Tournament on Sunday.
Henderson defeated his first two opponents in the adult brown belt middle division, but was shut out in his third match with a score of 8-0.
“Eh, it’s all good,” Henderson told GracieMag.com following his final match at the University of California, Irvine’s Bren Events Center. “I just love to compete and have fun.”
“Bendo,” as Henderson has been called in the past, first defeated Romulo Caiado Cavalcanti in the opening round, and followed that up with a 5-2 win over Pedro Teixeira Alcantara in the second round.
Henderson’s run through the tournament came to an end, however, when he met Jaime Soares Canuto in the third round of the bracket. He was swept by Canuto, who then immediately mounted Henderson to earn six points. When time expired, Canuto had added two more points to his tally for the 8-0 win.
“(In the last match) I didn’t have fun,” Henderson said when asked what went wrong in his third match.
The UFC 155-pound champ took a break from training for his April 20 title defense against former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez to partake in the widely popular Jiu-Jitsu tournament. He said that it was his way to find a release from all the MMA training he does on a regular basis.
Henderson’s head coach, John Crouch, said that although the tournament is a break from the MMA cycle, it isn’t a lengthy vacation. The two are still preparing regularly for the UFC on Fox 7 card that takes place in four weeks.
“We just did six rounds of hard MMA sparring yesterday,” Crouch said, reiterating that his fighter entered the tournament as something fun to do.
Leading into the weekend, Henderson received some criticism for entering the grappling tournament just four weeks from his UFC on Fox fight. The chances of getting injured made for some online chatter echoing surprise that the UFC would be okay with their lightweight champ competing.
Henderson said “whatever” to people with that opinion, adding that he ended up feeling just fine after being done with the competition.
“People are critical of everything,” he said. “The fact is I got done with the tournament and I can dance just fine. There was no injury.”
Bendo will have a busy schedule for the next couple of months. Once he’s done fighting Melendez in April, he’ll likely prepare for the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship that takes place in Long Beach, Calif. at the end of May. When asked if he’ll compete in the competition, Henderson responded, “I will be there.”
If he successfully defends his UFC title on Fox, Henderson will wait out the winner of the Aug. 3 fight between featherweight champion Jose Aldo and former WEC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis.