In a recent interview with MMA Mania, Benson Henderson, who defended the UFC strap three times before losing it to Anthony Pettis in 2013, was asked for his take on the lightweight GOAT conversation.
Many fight fans believe Nurmagomedov is the best to do it, going 29-0 and defending the UFC 155-pound title three times before retiring and vacating it last year. However “Smooth” doesn’t believe Nurmagomedov spent enough time fighting the top combatants in the world.
“Who cares about my opinion?” Henderson said via the outlet. “But I’m not gonna put Khabib up there for the greatest ever of all time. You can maybe consider him one of the greats for 155, but as far as one of the greatest of all-time in all weight classes, nah. You might have to miss me on that one. That’s saying something. Greatest of all time, I think there are a good 10 or 15 above him. I’m one of those purists who is about longevity as well. Somebody who has been there and competed at the top level. Not somebody who is 35-0 but only has really 10 fights against the top-level guys.”
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Henderson Said B.J. Penn Is the Lightweight GOAT
So, who is the greatest lightweight ever in Henderson’s eyes? It’s UFC Hall of Famer and former welterweight and lightweight champion B.J. Penn.
“The Prodigy,” like Henderson and Nurmagomedov, defended the 155-pound belt three times and is regarded by many as one of the best fighters of his era when he was in his prime.
“For me, B.J. Penn is the greatest lightweight of all time,” Henderson continued. “He’s up there for one of the greatest fighters of all weight classes, period. All-time. He did it against the best in the world, at the time they were the best in the world. You can’t complain about he didn’t fight this guy or that guy. At the time that he was fighting, in his heyday, he was fighting the best in the world and he was putting them away. For me, B.J. is up there.”
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Dustin Poirier Is the ‘First One Who Comes to Mind’ for Who the Best Active 155-Pound Fighter on the Planet Is Right Now, Henderson Said
Nurmagomedov and Penn are no longer active fighters. And during the interview, Henderson revealed that No. 1-ranked lightweight and ex-UFC interim lightweight champion Dustin Poirier is potentially the best active 155 pounder on Earth.
“No one sticks out head and shoulders above the other,” Henderson continued. “I like Poirier. He’s really good, really tough. Good jiu-jitsu, good boxing. He can mix it up with some good Muay Thai as well. I’ll maybe say Poirier. He’s the first one who comes to mind.”
Henderson is scheduled to fight on October 16, 2021, during the Bellator 268 main card against ex-Bellator lightweight champion Brent Primus.