A couple days ago I reported that Benson Henderson spent time in Korea while in Asia for the UFC's press conference to formally announce UFC 144 in Tokyo, Japan. During his time in Korea he trained with Chan Sung Jung and Korean Top team and did media appearances. The big news was that he also got a chance to spend time with his mother's side of the family in Korea. It was Ben's first time meeting them and I reached out to find out what the experience was like for him.
"It was an incredible experience meeting them, and it was even more special to be able to be there when my mother saw them again too. It was definitely planned, as I always had planned to go to Korea," said Benson Henderson. "I just thought it would happen when I was done fighting. You feel a little more complete as a person when you do something like that."
Benson has been afforded many opportunities because of his success in MMA. While winning the WEC belt may be what fans see as the most memorable moment, he sees meeting his family for the first time as the best MMA related moment. Meeting them with his mother just adds to that.
After the trip to Korea, Henderson flew to Japan for the UFC 144 press conference. There have been a lot of concerns from fans and media that the current state of MMA in Japan as wells as the unfamiliarity with the UFC product may lead to an unsuccessful return to the Land of the Rising Sun. Benson gave me his perspective on the reception the UFC received at the press conference.
"The response was great. I believe the fans knew who all of us were. They are great MMA fans and very passionate about the sport. There's a lot of knowledge there, so it was fun to talk to a lot of the people in Japan."
While there are still worries about the current booking of the Japanese event, the fact that the fighters were well received is a good sign that the UFC may find some success in the market. Joe Silva is opting to go the non-freak show route and booking the fights as competitive match ups instead of one sided affairs. The lightweight title fight between Benson and Frankie Edgar may actually be the best fight for the Japanese audience who have been far more accepting of the lighter weight fighters than their North American counterparts. Henderson vs. Edgar promises to be a Fight of the Year candidate and will be a great way to introduce the fighters to Japanese fans.