Benson Henderson, Scott Coker unsure if Henderson’s future is with Bellator

PHOENIX – Benson Henderson’s Bellator tenure probably hasn’t been as successful has he hoped, but if Saturday was his final bout with the promotion he went out on a high note.

Henderson (29-11 MMA, 6-6 BMMA) pulled off the biggest upset at Bellator 273 when he took a split decision from 6-1 favorite Islam Mamedov (20-2-1 MMA, 1-1 BMMA) in the co-main event at Footprint Center in Phoenix. Henderson pulled his Bellator record to .500 and snapped a three-fight skid.

Mamedov, who had former UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov in his corner, hadn’t lost since 2009 in his second pro fight and had a 20-fight unbeaten streak.

Henderson said the fight was the last one on his Bellator contract, and while he isn’t sure he necessarily wants to call it quits, he’s also not sure if he’ll be back with Bellator if he doesn’t retire.

“I don’t know how much longer I’ll be doing this for Bellator, so I wanted to soak it all in,” Henderson said at the post-fight news conference. “I’m not sure if this is going to be my last fight or not, so I wanted to enjoy it, wanted to enjoy the ‘W,’ enjoy getting my hand raised. I might keep going, I might not, so we’ll find out.

“This is my last fight on my deal with Bellator. They pay me a lot of money, and I might have under-fought my contract. Going into the renegotiations, I’m not sure how they’re going to treat me. We’ll see. We’ll find out. But I do know if this was the last one, it was a great way to go out. … I would like to continue fighting, but all the things have to line up.”

In the cage after his win, Henderson could be heard on the broadcast making a brief comment to Nurmagomedov that if he’s done with Bellator, he might have to hit him up. Nurmagomedov’s Eagle FC promotion had its first event in the U.S. on Friday in Miami.

Bellator president Scott Coker told MMA Junkie he’s not sure if Henderson will be back with the promotion.

“I think he was thinking about retiring, and it’s really going to be up to him,” Coker said. “He’s already done it all. He’s been fighting a long time. He’s been a great ambassador for the sport, and if he decides to hang it up, I think he’s done everything there is to do and we’ll wish him well. But if he wants to fight, we’ll have a conversation.”

Henderson signed with Bellator in 2016 and fought for the welterweight title in his first fight with the promotion. After a loss to then-champion Andrey Koreshkov, he dropped back to lightweight and beat eventual two-division champ Patricio Freire with a TKO when Freire suffered a leg injury. He then fought Michael Chandler for the lightweight title, but dropped a split decision.

After four straight wins in 2018-2019, Henderson had a three-fight skid with a knockout loss to Chandler and decision setbacks to Jason Jackson and Brent Primus before his big upset of Mamedov.

Henderson never had been as big of an underdog in his career as he was against Mamedov on Saturday.

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