Benson Henderson reveals he once swallowed a toothpick

MMA veteran Benson Henderson was known for fighting with a toothpick hidden in his mouth.

By: Tim Bissell | 2 months ago
Benson Henderson reveals he once swallowed a toothpick
April 22, 2016; Uncasville, CT, USA; Benson Henderson (blue tape) in action during Bellator 153 welterweight title bout at Mohegan Sun Arena. Koreshkov defeated Henderson by unanimous decision and retains his welterweight title. MMA 2016: Bellator 153 APR 22 - ZUMAc04_

Benson Henderson recently announced his retirement from MMA. The 39-year-old will be remembered for his longevity across multiple promotions, including the WEC, UFC and, most recently, Bellator.

Henderson famously lifted the UFC lightweight title with a pair of contentious victories over Frankie Edgar back in 2012. He would later twice challenge for the Bellator lightweight title.

Something else Henderson is famous for is fighting while having a toothpick squirrelled away inside his cheek. During his UFC tenure, there was shock among observers when the toothpick was spotted during his 2015 win over Jorge Masvidal. This wasn’t the only time cameras caught him with a toothpick during a UFC fight.

Henderson addressed the situation saying it was a comfort thing. Later on he claimed he had quit doing it.

During an appearance on The MMA Hour Henderson revealed more about this practise, telling Ariel Helwani that the toothpick was often left in his mouth from a previous meal.

“For a lot of fights, I had the toothpick, yeah,” Henderson he said. “For a lot of fights. It was just a bad habit. I would literally, like, go out to lunch or dinner or breakfast, whatever — you know, you have the toothpicks from the restaurant. I would just forget I have it in, I would practice, I would do whatever. I’d leave it in for fights.”

Henderson also admitted to actually swallowing a tooth pick once, though – thankfully – that wasn’t during a fight.

“I’d graduated college, and then I went home to surprise my mom. I surprised her when she was coming down the stairs, and I had a toothpick in like I always do, and I was a little bit older. I was mature enough to realize how dumb that was, how not smart that was, how crazy that was. But I scared her — and I swallowed my toothpick.”

Henderson said he didn’t seek any medical attention after that and that he doubted that the incident caused any permanent damage.

Count Henderson as lucky, then. In 1941 American writer Sherwood Anderson died of peritonitis after accidentally swallowing a toothpick.

After quitting toothpicks in 2022 Henderson said he moved onto chewing gum instead.

What was Benson Henderson’s MMA record?

Benson Henderson finished his pro MMA career with a record of 30-12. He joined the UFC in 2011 with a 12-2 record and went 11-3 in the Octagon, taking wins over Jorge Masvidal, Frankie Edgar, Nate Diaz, Jim Miller and Clay Guida. He joined Bellator in 2016. With Bellator he went 7-7. His last fight was a submission loss to Usman Nurmagomedov on March 10 in the Bellator Lightweight World Grand Prix quarter final, which was also for the Bellator lightweight world championship.

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About the author
Tim Bissell
Tim Bissell

Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. Among Tim's specialties are the intersections between crime and combat sports. Tim has also covered head trauma, concussions and CTE in great detail.

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