MANILA, Philippines – UFC lightweight champion Benson “Smooth” Henderson is looking forward to defending his championship against Gilbert Melendez, especially as the fight will be the main event of the latest edition of UFC on FOX.
In an interview with MMA Fighting, Henderson revealed that he prefers to fight on UFC on FOX cards instead of pay-per-view cards, because he reaches a wider audience that way.
Henderson had already fought on the main event of a UFC on FOX event, beating Nate Diaz to retain his title last December. The fight card was watched by 5.7 million viewers.
“Just the number of people who tuned in for the main event, 5.5 million, that’s a lot of people,” Henderson said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “That smashes any pay-per-view numbers.”
Henderson said he is different from many other UFC fighters, who are concerned with pay-per-view buys and numbers.
“I don’t give a crap about pay-per-view stuff. I like fighting on the biggest platform, and FOX is that platform,” said Henderson. “I’m excited to be on FOX for the second time in a row.”
“I think it shows the trust the UFC top brass and the FOX top brass have in me. They think I’ll portray the sport in the right manner,” he added.
By fighting on FOX instead of on pay-per-view, Henderson said he is able to gain new fans beyond the UFC’s usual target audience.
“It’s great to be watched by soccer moms who are flipping channels,” he said. “They stop and watch and become fans. I go to the grocery store now, and 50-year-old soccer moms say, ‘I saw you on TV’.”
“I really dig that, and it only happened after being on that big of a platform,” he added.
Henderson will be in enemy territory when he fights Melendez, however, as UFC on FOX 7 will be held in the latter’s hometown of San Jose, California, in the HP Pavilion.
But “Smooth” shrugged off the pressure, saying: “For me, no, it doesn’t matter. I don’t care where the fight takes place.”
“All that stuff is just add-on,” he explained. “It’s just hoopla to hype up a fight.”