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Bendo coach on loss, possible move to 170

1/21/2015

If you haven't heard, Donald "Cowboy" Cerrone defeated Benson Henderson via unanimous decision in a UFC lightweight contest on Sunday in Boston. All three judges scored the bout for Cerrone 29-28.

Henderson's trainer, John Crouch, didn't agree with them. When the fight ended, Crouch had it three rounds to zero in favor of his guy. Plenty of media members (and fans) also scored the fight for Henderson (21-5).

Crouch, however, isn't going to argue with those who thought Cerrone won. It all depends, he says, on what one looks for in a fight. And unfortunately in mixed martial arts, there is not a 100 percent, clearly defined way to judge a fight.

"I'm not complaining," Crouch told ESPN.com. "Ben has been in close fights before and people have disagreed with it. It happens. Until we can agree what is worth what -- what the values are of certain things -- there's no way to fix the system. We don't know what to tell the judges to judge. They're just going by what they think."

In a social media post on Tuesday, Henderson, like Crouch, also took the high road on the decision and strongly hinted at a potential move to welterweight. Crouch spoke more about the decision and Henderson's comments to ESPN.

ESPN.com: Walk us through your thought process as the fight progressed, in terms of the scoring.

Crouch: I thought we had every round. I was actually really surprised by the decision. I saw some other people thought Cerrone had won, so I guess it was just that close of a fight. I thought we had done more.

ESPN.com: Were you happy with Henderson's overall performance? Was it the kind of fight you wanted going in?

Crouch: I thought it was good. We had planned on trying to break Cowboy's rhythm and that's what happened the whole fight. Those little kicks, changing levels -- Cowboy really thought we were going to try to take him down and I wanted Ben to at least try, whether we got it or not I didn't care. I thought [Henderson] felt comfortable the whole time.

ESPN.com: Do you get outraged about a decision like this or is it just one of those things, "Didn't go our way tonight?"

Crouch: It's frustrating because you don't know what's worth what. People want to say Ben lost the second round because of a takedown. Well, the takedown lasted 20 seconds and Donald didn't do anything. Ben popped right back up. Is that any more dominant than 20 seconds of Ben kicking his leg up and not letting him do his thing, which is what happened the whole fight? Donald felt off-balance because of us. It wasn't because he had a bad day. If you HAVE to hit a takedown to win, then that's what we'll do -- but nobody knows. It's personal opinion.

The problem is that it's not like football. What were the Seattle Seahawks earlier this year, 6-4? Everybody said they were terrible and they'd never make the Super Bowl. You don't get that chance in MMA. And now, with the Reebok [UFC partnership], Ben loses this split decision so he's not ranked No. 5 anymore. He's ranked No. 7. Well, his money just dropped from that. His next fight, his money just dropped and it's not a decision people agree on. If somebody thought he lost the fight that's their right, but these decisions are so important and I'm sorry to get long-winded but the fighters don't make any damn money as it is. Five people make good money. Ben was a world champion and he didn't make real good money. He made good money, but not the kind of money you'd think he'd make for being the best in the world at what you do, in a business that's making billions of dollars.

Fighters have to take the Reebok deal, right? There's no choice. That's not fair. That kind of thing should go through a player's representative. That doesn't happen in our sport. If you don't like it, then don't fight in the UFC. Well, come on. Where are fighters supposed to go?

ESPN.com: In a post on Tuesday, Henderson hinted at moving to welterweight (where he would then be re-ranked, regarding the Reebok deal comments). Have the two of you discussed this move and is it official?

Crouch: I didn't see the post, but I think Ben has been thinking about 170 for a long time. There are good matchups right now for him there. Cerrone is going to fight Khabib [Nurmagomedov] for a title shot -- that's great and well-deserved, by the way. But now what does that do for us? We have to fight Eddie Alvarez? Eddie is No. 10. Cowboy beat him up. We have to fight Gilbert Melendez? We already beat Gilbert. We've beat everybody. Do we have to jump down to fight someone at No. 13? It's frustrating. We're in a weird spot and it's not a happy spot for me.

ESPN.com: I've seen you mention before that his walk (non-fighting) weight is only around 175 pounds. You don't think the size difference at welterweight will be too much?

Crouch: Well, he's tired of cutting weight. I do think that's the base of it. But who knows? We'll see what matchups look like, talk with the powers that be and come up with something good. We've had 170-pounders in the gym, big ones, and Ben has held his own. He's very fast and at 170 he'd be super fast. He's strong. His cardio is better than most at 170 pounds. I don't feel bad about it at all. I've seen him with 170-pounders. Ultimately, I would love for him to get his belt back. I thought he beat Cowboy and he wanted that fight with Khabib. But we didn't and so here we are. We'll let it lay for a few; talk about it in a week or so.