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Benson Henderson aims for late summer Bellator return following knee surgery

Bellator 153: Koreshkov v Henderson Photo by Ed Mulholland/Getty Images

Former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson hasn’t seen the overall results that he expected after signing with Bellator MMA last year. Henderson has gone just 1-2, losing title fights opposite 155-pound king Michael Chandler and former welterweight champion Andrey Koreshkov. However, “Smooth” recently revealed that he was competing with a torn ACL, MCL, two meniscus and a bunch of loose cartilage.

“(The injury occurred) about two months before the Andrey Koreshkov fight, actually, but I didn’t feel like it really affected my performance,” Henderson recently told MMAjunkie. “I don’t make excuses. It didn’t affect any of my performances. I was able to be smart about it and train the way I wanted to for all my fights. But for the Chandler fight, it had got worse and worse and worse. Just gradually it got worse, and I wasn’t able to do certain things.

“(For) the Chandler fight, I didn’t have the training camp I wanted, and it became tougher for me to do the things I wanted to do. It become difficult for me to have the type of training camp I know I’m supposed to have. No excuses at all for whether I got my hand raised or whether I lost. But it became so hard and tough for me to maintain my output at such a high level, I knew it was time to have the surgery.”

Henderson, 33, has produced a pedestrian 5-4 MMA record since losing his UFC title to Anthony Pettis back in 2013. If he was operating with decreased mobility and explosiveness, it will be interesting to see how the veteran responds when he gets back in the Bellator cage.

“My surgeon has said nine to 12 months because it wasn’t just the ACL; it was ACL, MCL and meniscus,” Henderson said. “Because it’s everything it was, he recommends a longer layoff so I can do my due diligence with the rehab and all that stuff. He says nine to 12 months, but I’m a little bit more optimistic than that with me being the fighter I am. I’m a little bit more risky, so we’ll see.

“I want to be in there before nine months. I had surgery on Dec. 19, so basically at the beginning of the year in January is when my rehab started. If I can make it back before the ninth of September – I don’t want to push it and be crazy, but late July, maybe August. I want to have that Adrian Peterson comeback.”

Considering Henderson fought Chandler to a very close and entertaining split decision his last time out, it’s plausible that the former UFC champ only needs a win or two to get back into title contention. After all, there aren’t too many names on the 155-pound roster with more championship experience than “Smooth.”

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