Victor Henry made quite the impression in his Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) debut earlier this year.
A former Deep Bantamweight champion and RIZIN contender, Henry has fought the majority of his career making a name for himself in Japan. The experience gained along the 27-fight journey has been paramount in getting his skills sharpened for his new home in the Octagon. However, unlike most, the 35-year-old Henry (22-5) has the unique perspective of having competed under several different rulesets and criteria.
For the Josh Barnett protege, it’s never been difficult adapting to the new environments as Henry’s made sure to prepare himself for all situations in his everyday training scenarios.
“I train the same no matter what the ruleset is,” Henry told MMAMania.com on BROADENED HORIZIN. “I tell my [training] partners to constantly cheat because I’m going to constantly do things that are viewed maybe illegal under the unified rules of UFC. Because even while somebody’s down, I’m gonna kick or knee them right in the rib, knee them in the leg, I’m gonna do all these things that are — I wouldn’t consider dirty — unorthodox as far as ground striking. The only thing that really changes is when you start kneeing and kicking people in the head.”
In most Asia-based promotions, grounded knee strikes to the head are allowed which often creates a different element for fighters to work with. In North America, we’ve seen some recent instances where things have gone awry in the rules department whether with that rule specifically or other such fouls.
“You always gotta be engaged,” Henry said. “When it comes to the rule changes and stuff, yes people can get away from themselves like what Petr Yan did to Aljamain Sterling in the first fight. But you can’t allow fatigue, frustration, or mental lapse to pull you away from what’s allowed and not allowed. Because for sure, if you’re tired, somebody’s gonna grab that cage if someone’s trying to take you down. What’s the aggressor gonna do? Are you gonna stop and look at the referee? ‘Hey, he grabbed the cage.’ You’re gonna have to continue working. Let the referee do his job if the referee needs to step in.
“That’s why I tell people all the time: cheat,” he added. “Grab my glove, grab the fence, accidentally kick me in the nuts, don’t do it fricken hard, obviously. But do some dirty, grimey s—t. People are gonna do that. Especially when it comes to the amount of money we’re fighting for, the possible top 15, top 10, top 20 spot we’re fighting for, there’s a lot on the line with these fights.”
Henry debuted in UFC at UFC 270 in Jan. 2022 opposite underrated Bantamweight dark horse, Raoni Barcelos. A sizeable underdog at +380 odds, Henry went out to put on a thrilling effort and score a unanimous decision upset victory.
Always hoping to stay busy, “La Mangosta” hasn’t fought since, as he’s currently rehabbing a lingering elbow injury. The hope now is to get in two more fights before 2023, but if possible and healthy enough, he’ll even make three happen so he can finish out this current contract and negotiate for whatever would come afterward.
Watch the full episode of BROADENED HORIZIN Ep. 15 in the video embedded above or you can listen on Spotify.