Parenthood is one of the greatest responsibilities anyone can face – and it seems that with four young children at home, Benson Henderson has put aside some of his wayward habits.
Henderson, the former UFC and WEC lightweight champion, is well known for fighting and training with a toothpick in his mouth. The habit first surfaced during his lightweight title defense against Nate Diaz in 2012, and although Henderson was criticized by Dana White and others, he continued to do so for some time, the cure -dent making a notable reappearance in his fights with Brandon. Thatch and Jorge Masvidal in 2015. But now that he has kids of his own, “Smooth” says he’s doing his best to kick the habit.
“I’m trying not to have toothpicks anymore,” Henderson said on MMA hour. “It was just a bad habit. I try not to. I always told my mum it was because I saw my dad with a toothpick in his mouth, so I copied him and I was 7, 8, 9 running around with a toothpick in my mouth and she would be all scared, ‘Oh, get it out!’ Then when I had my eldest [child], I imagined my 6 year old, 5 year old, 7 year old son running around with a toothpick in his mouth and was scared to death. It does not look like! You could be really hurt!
“That’s why I try not to do all this toothpick stuff, just because I’m afraid they’ll copy me. So I try not to.
It’s a good choice from Henderson. While not expressly prohibited by the Unified MMA Rules, competing with a sharp object in your mouth is almost certainly a genuine safety issue that athletic commissions would find unacceptable, and even Henderson himself has admitted to some dangerous instances. with the toothpick before, though at the time when he was still determined to keep it.
Henderson recently re-signed with Bellator following a split decision win over Islam Mamedov. He is scheduled to face Peter Queally on September 23 at Bellator 285.