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Former UFC champ -- and current Bellator MMA star -- Ben Henderson reveals plans to join military

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Ben Henderson, 32, has always had a time limit attached to his mixed martial arts (MMA) career. That's because the former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight champion has often stated that his combat sports career will come to an end at age 33 ... give or take a few months.

But, if you think the newest addition to the Bellator MMA roster is going to take it easy once his fighting days are over, you're highly-mistaken. That's because "Smooth" intends to join a military branch as part of its reserve group once hangs up his gloves. In fact, even if he doesn't exactly leave the sport at age of 33, he still intends to fulfill his long-time goal of serving his country.

He broke it all down on a recent edition of The MMA Hour (via MMA Fighting):

"The real reason, to be frank with you, is that I will end up joining the military ranks. I've always held a pretty strong civic duty. Us as Americans, we need to do a better job period. Kids always say for the longest time, oh I was going to join the Marines, oh I was going to join the Army, this or that. Every 22-year old says that. It's something that I always felt. When I'm older, when I'm 50, I want to be able to tell my kids, I want to tell my grandkids, hey, you have a civic duty to your country. To serve, to give back. What have you done for your country besides eating the food and using the electricity? What have you done for your country? It was something I felt pretty strongly about and I'm finding out there are other ways to go about doing it, but I can do it while still having an MMA career."

Of course, the reserves aren't the first line of defense if war or foreign conflict emerges. That said, if his number is ever called to go to battle -- an entirely different one than he's used to -- he's fully prepared to do so.

"I'd be open to it. I've talked to my wife about it. If that's a possibility, if that's a duty that that branch of the military feels I'm best fit for, sure. No problem. Is it something I want to do? I'm not 21, I'm not 18, I don't want to go to war and do this...nah, I'm old man. I don't need to prove myself and go to war and all this stuff. But, if that's what's called on, and that's what it takes, you know ..."


As far as which branch of the military "Smooth" intends to enlist with, the Air Force branch in Phoenix, Ariz., is the leading candidate. For now, Henderson will focus on trying to add more world titles to his mantle, as he is set to face Andrey Koreshkov at Bellator 153 on Friday night (April 22, 2016) for the Welterweight championship.

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