Maria Henderson Expects “Well-Rounded Ground” Battle at Bellator 293
Maria Henderson tests skills with Mackenzie Stiller at Bellator 293 on March 31st.
Henderson appeared on Bowks Talking Bouts to touch on Benson‘s recent transition from competing to coaching, the grappling-heavy considerations for this next bout, and so much more. Excerpts from our chat are below.
The recent events with Benson transitioning from competing to coaching Maria in her MMA endeavors
“Yeah, it’s something we knew that was going to happen. Obviously, it happened a lot sooner than we were expecting. None of us thought he was going to lose to Usman (Nurmagomedov). I think nine out of ten times he beats Usman. Usman just had a great moment, then he had capitalized on that moment, and that’s what MMA is about. So hats off to Usman. He’s actually a super, super nice guy. So I hope he does well. The 155 bracket is crazy (laughs); that tournament. So hats off to Usman. Hope he does well.”
“It’s been kind of an up-and-down kind of emotional rollercoaster this last week. Just with everything that happened. None of us really expected that. I thought my husband was going to have four more fights. So in my head, I was thinking like man, this has been a tough camp. Tough like third week before the fight, Ben being gone. Now I was thinking in my head like ok we’ve got to manage this. We’ve got to do a little bit better, we’ve got to do this next time, got to do this next time if this happens again. Now it’s all done, it’s all over.”
“It has been an interesting emotional rollercoaster. Didn’t expect my husband to lose. I didn’t expect him to retire. So it’s been different. Coming into the gym has been a little bit different. He still comes in. He’s still been there for all of our fight team practices and like I said he just put me through a cardio workout and we’ve hit mitts several times this week. We’ve gone over positions several times this week.”
Henderson continued, “Now he’s more full coach-mode with me. It’s just him not training anymore. It’s just him not going out there and being the best lightweight in the world. He’s retired now. Now he gets his official dad bod (laughs).”
Henderson’s thoughts on her looming opponent, Mackenzie Stiller
“I think she’s probably going to be one of the most well-rounded ground people and maybe most talented in one aspect than any of the other girls I fought. The first girl I fought (Amanda Mitchell) was a stand-up girl. Didn’t want to go on the ground, didn’t want to do jiu-jitsu or wrestle or anything like that. Second girl I fought (Collette Santiago), I think she was like a high school wrestler and that’s kind of what her thing was. The third girl I fought (Jena Williams) she was actually pretty well rounded too.”
“She had quite a few fights and was really good on the ground. She was like 5’11 and I had a hard time on the ground with her. Because every time we went on the ground she was already pushing me away. By the time I touched her toes, she was getting away because her arms were so long. The next girl I fought (Melanie McIntyre), she was really well rounded too because she was one who had a lot of fights. She had a five-round fight as an amateur and she was really well rounded… But I think this girl won’t mind clinching up with me.”
Maria Henderson vs Mackenzie Stiller
Henderson continued, “Because she’s a judo girl. She’s a judo black belt. I think she’s like a purple belt in jiu-jitsu and I think they said she wrestled in high school. So she’s going to want to be on the ground. So it’s going to be interesting to see how we fare against each other because we’re both going to want to get to the same place right? It’s kind of just who’s better at that place. Maybe, I don’t know. Who knows? Maybe she’ll surprise me. Maybe she’ll come out and kick my head, we’ll see.”
I’ve been enamored with combat sports for as long as I can remember. I’ve hosted MMA talk shows Lights Out and Pure Fight Radio with featured guests like Jens Pulver, Roy Nelson, Miesha Tate, Mark Coleman, and more. I’ve been an MMA broadcaster for XFFC as well as BTC and have done play by play commentary on live pay per view on GFL as well as FITE TV. I’ve provided written, audio, and video content covering some of the biggest MMA promotions like Rumble in the Cage, Unified MMA, and King of the Cage. I’ve worked as a sports entertainment personality for over five years and given play-by-play or featured promotions of KSW, ONE Championship, TKO, and Invicta FC. My work can be found in the USA Today Sports affiliate MMA Torch, Cageside Press, MMA Sucka, and Liberty Multimedia.