Ben Henderson issues open challenge: Fight me if you think you deserve a UFC title shot

Ron Chenoy-US PRESSWIRE

Attention all potential lightweight title challengers, Ben Henderson wants to see if your good enough to vie for the strap by engaging in fisticuffs inside the Octagon.

Since winning the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight title back at UFC 164 back in August of 2013, Anthony Pettis has yet to defend his illustrious strap.

Through no fault of his own, of course, as "Showtime" has been dealing with a knee injury that required surgery to fix.

The good news is that Pettis is cleared to begin training and will indeed defend the coveted 155-pound title at the end of the year against Gilbert Melendez, after the two fulfill their duties as opposing coaches on season 20 of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF).

In the meantime, if there are any other 155-pounders who feel they are ready to challenge for the division strap and don't want to wait an extended period of time to fight, then Ben Henderson is waiting for you.

Appearing on The MMA Hour, "Smooth" says he is more than happy to keep title hopefuls busy, offering himself up as a obstacle to get through to prove their worthiness of a title shot.

But he also wants to make it perfectly clear that he isn't taking shots at Pettis for the lack of title defenses statement.

He explains:

"I can understand how people would take that, but no, I don't have anything bad to say against Pettis. I'm not taking shots.'Shots fired, shots fired.' I'm not taking shots at Anthony Pettis or anything like that. Truly, the belt is not being defended as many times as the it had been previously. If the belt is not being defended as it has been previously. I would like to offer an opening to all comers, since I'm the next highest rated guy, if you so chose to fight for the belt. I'm here and I am presenting myself as willing and able. Khabilov asked to fight me; hats off to him, he's a great guy and all that, that was a great job of him going out there and try to climb the ladder by challenging the next best guy. The guy highest up on the ladder. I don't know if he truly thought I was going to accept or if he was doing it for the sake of doing it. Yeah, if the belt is not being defended as many times as it can be or normally is, then yeah, I will take on all the next top contenders. Eventually, if you keep on fighting and winning, you're going to fight for the belt. No matter what, period. It might take a year, two or three, but if you keep winning, you are going to fight for the belt. That being said, if you think you ready for the belt, a title shot, come do it with me, let's find out."

Henderson made in two wins in a row this past weekend (June 7, 2014) by taking out tough-as-nails Rustam Khabilov in the main event of UFC Fight Night 42 in Albuquerque New Mexico; Rustam's home base.

Full video highlights here.

Perhaps even more importantly -- as far as silencing critics go -- "Smooth" got his first finish under the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) umbrella by choking out "Tiger" in the fourth round, his first such win in the last four years.

Not that "Smooth" cares about any of that.

Currently ranked at No. 1, Henderson wants to keep the momentum going as he is willing to take on anyone, preferably a title contender (calling Khabib Nurmagomedov) at anytime. And if "Smooth" keeps knocking off title contenders, well then that pretty much opens up his own path to reclaiming his strap.

There's always a method to the madness.

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