If Benson Henderson ever wanted to be a welterweight, now is as good a time as any.
The former UFC lightweight champion lost his title in August -- convincingly, to the same man who took his WEC title a few years back. He became a married man Jan. 1, so looking good shirtless isn’t as necessary as it used to be.
Henderson (19-3), however, says he never considered a jump to 170 pounds and is intent on taking back his lightweight title. That process starts this month, when he meets Josh Thomson at a UFC on Fox event Saturday in Chicago.
"This is my weight class," Henderson told ESPN.com. "I want to own this weight class. It was mine for a while and it will be mine again.
"A couple years down the line, if there’s talk of 170 again, I’ll entertain it. But nah, 155 is my weight class."
Fighting out of Glendale, Ariz., Henderson says he has made no drastic changes since the submission loss to Anthony Pettis at UFC 164. He makes no excuses for it either.
"Everything was going actually really great -- I had a great weight cut and camp," Henderson said. "There is no big reason why it happened. No excuses."
Henderson says the idea of a trilogy fight with Pettis down the road has no effect on his current motivation, but he doesn't say it very convincingly.
He received mild criticism as champion for claiming there was little desire to avenge the first loss to Pettis. Henderson would shrug off the topic, saying he intended to defend the belt for years and assumed he’d run into him eventually.
With the series now 0-2, Henderson's comments are relatively similar -- but it's almost as though he can't get through what sounds like a scripted response without wavering. There's ultimately very little doubt he'd like a third Pettis fight.
"He has the belt and I'm going to get that thing around my waist again," Henderson said. "If he has the belt when I win it back? Awesome. But no, do I have to fight Anthony Pettis again? No, I don’t really have to.
"I don’t need it for any particular reason -- but we will face off again. And when we do, I will be very, very, very excited to be in the Octagon with him again."
The adjustments needed to eventually win that fight are small, in Henderson’s eyes. The map forward is the same it has always been -- improve incrementally and seek constant challenges.
The challenge part doesn’t seem as if it will ever be an issue for Henderson, because it comes naturally. Less than two months after surrendering his UFC title, Henderson flew to Beijing to compete in the ADCC world grappling tournament. He went 1-1, which he described as, "not doing very well at all," but it was a way to get out of his comfort zone.
He should be more comfortable Saturday, in a fight that might have surprised some when it was first announced. Thomson (20-5) is, after all, the division's perceived No. 1 contender, in part because of injury. Even if Henderson beats him, it's unlikely he’d earn a title shot so quickly.
Henderson says he's not looking too much into the stakes of the fight. Based on rankings, he knows he's deserving of another title shot whether the UFC can market it or not, but he's content for now to just accept fights and make sure he wins them.
"It doesn't really matter much to me," Henderson said. "If Pettis has the belt but he's injured and doesn't fight and I've been beating everybody up -- I’m going to make a statement in every fight I have."