Benson Henderson believes Rustam Khabilov personifies the stereotype that Russians are a “tough” people.
“Rustam’s very tough man,” Henderson told Submission Radio. “We all know those Russians, they’re very tough, you know they’re known as a people as being tough, the stereotype so to speak. But he proves it inside the octagon as well. It’s not just a stereotype for him, but it’s fact. He’s a tough kid.”
While Henderson is not worried about Khabilov’s infamous suplexes, he is taking this match-up very seriously and is aware that his opponent is constantly bettering his game at Jackson’s MMA.
“(He’s been) working on his wrestling. His wrestling, his Sambo is his background (and) he’s really good at it. So he’s been at (Greg) Jackson’s now for a while working on improving his overall game of course. His Boxing, his kickboxing, his overall game, working on everything, and he’s getting better. He’s shown improvement in every fight, so me knowing that, me knowing that Jackon’s camp, Greg Jackon and how good that camp is, how good all those fighters are, I know he’ll be a better fighter. This’ll be the best Rustam Khabilov that the UFC has ever seen. So I’m preparing for my best and my best performance so that I can go five rounds, hard, and go out there and show up and show out.”
The former UFC lightweight champion has not fought since a split decision victory over Josh Thompson back at UFC on FOX 10. While many fans and pundits alike considered the decision to be a highly controversial one, it has not pressured Henderson to change his approach to a fight, as his ultimate goal is simply to leave victorious. Whether or not he puts on a show is secondary.
“No. I mean, for me to get a title I have to keep on winning. Period. It doesn’t matter, you need to win. People get too caught up in ‘Oh you gotta do this, oh you gotta do that, oh you gotta do that’. It doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. You gotta go out there and win. First things first. You gotta go out there and get your hand raised.”
“Does it help a little so to speak, you know, finishing fights? Of course, yeah. Obviously it helps to finish fights and make a statement and yadda, yadda, yadda, and that sort of stuff. But ultimately it comes down to winning. That’s it.”
UFC Fight Night: Henderson vs. Khabilov takes place on June 7, 2014 at the Tingley Coliseum in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
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