Benson Henderson is a pretty phenomenal martial artist. He won the UFC lightweight title in 2012, and defended it three times in just over 12 months. Now "Smooth" is currently preparing for his Bellator debut, and considering his MMA career so far, he's easily the top contender for their Lightweight belt.
That's why it's all the more surprising that he's said he is definitely going to retire from competition at 33 years old. Considering he turns 33 in just seven months, that doesn't leave him a lot of time left in the cage.
At the very least though, Henderson's plan to hang up his gloves is for a good reason: he wants to fulfill what he believes is his civic duty, and join the US military.
Henderson told Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour that:
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," he added. "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."
When asked about active combat duty, Henderson stated that he understands what the job might entail.
"I’d be open to it. I’ve talked to my wife about it," he said. "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."
Henderson, who currently trains out of Arizona, said that he is considering an Air Force branch in Phoenix.
For now though, Henderson will be looking to get through his first Bellator fight, taking on Andrey Koreshkov this Friday for the welterweight title.
23-5 in his MMA career so far, a win over Koreshkov will make Henderson the first man to ever hold titles in the UFC, WEC, and Bellator.