The injury that forced Ben Henderson out of his lightweight scrap against Michael Johnson -- which was planned for The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 21 Finale on July 12, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada -- is being kept under wraps, as "Smooth" refuses to divulge any information regarding his mysterious boo-boo.
If you ask Johnson, "Smooth" seems to have come down with a case of fear, and he's convinced the former lightweight champion is afraid to step in the cage with him.
"The Menace" talks to MMA Junkie Radio:
"To tell you the truth, I don't think Benson wants to fight me; I think he's a little scared. We'll see. I was supposed to fight him, he pulled out with an injury, said he would fight me three weeks later and I haven't heard from him since. I don't know what the hell happened. I heard he has a detached retina. Then I heard he could fight me three weeks later. I'm thinking to myself, ‘A detached retina, but you can still fight me three weeks later?' Then I heard a rumor about him doing some jiu-jitsu tournament and I'm like, ‘Man, everything's pointing to that he doesn't want to fight me."
For what it's worth, Ben did acknowledge his injury was "in the area" of his eye.
As far as who is next for Johnson, that's still unknown; but he made it clear that he isn't one to back down from any challenge, as he took what appears to be a lighthearted jab at "Mr. Glass," Anthony Pettis.
"I wanted to fight (Benson); he didn't want to take the fight right away, I guess. It looks like I'm going to have to fight down for one more fight, then I guess we'll see. I don't really have time to wait for any of these top guys to get open, so I just have to keep fighting. I'd love to see Anthony Pettis but he actually got hurt, because he was supposed to fight Myles Jury in Chicago. ‘Mr. Glass,' I'm cool with Anthony, but he stays hurt so much. He could be out another five or six months. I don't say no to anybody. I'm healthy at this point. I'm ready to go and I was getting ready to fight Ben."
He's healthy now, but that wasn't the case a few weeks back, when he was the first person UFC called to step in and replace an injured Khabib Nurmagomedov against Donald Cerrone at UFC 187, which went down this past weekend (May 23, 2015) in Las Vegas, Nevada.
It's an opportunity Johnson admits he now regrets passing on, but says at the time he really had no option due to a bum shoulder. And facing a veteran like "Cowboy" on short notice at less than 100-percent isn't the smartest thing to do.
"I was the first one they called, but unfortunately, timing's everything, and I couldn't take it. I was dealing with a little shoulder problem I had to get worked out on, and three weeks of me not really training isn't enough time to get ready for a fight like ‘Cowboy.' Watching him fight, I was like, ‘Shit. Maybe I should have just signed it and went in and fought.' It is what is it. The title's not going anywhere, and I'll be there pretty soon."
If Johnson has his way, he'll gladly accept another fight against Cerrone, as long as the winner is guaranteed a title shot. But, seeing as how Donald likely has that shot in his back pocket after defeating John Makdessi via second round technical knockout (recap), "Cowboy" is more than willing to wait for his championship fight.
Benson, meanwhile is eyeing a return to action this November, as he hopes to get a spot on the Nov. 28, 2015 "Fight Night" event in South Korea (more on that here).
And while Johnson won't wait that long for Henderson, "The Menace" made sure to remind "Smooth" that he won't forget about him anytime soon, based on this recent interaction on Twitter.
I don't know about you, but now I'm even more eager to see these two talented lightweights get it on.