Victor Henry knew exactly how his sophomore UFC outing versus Raphael Assuncao would go. He would march the Brazilian down and plant a punch on his chin to earn the knockout win. Of course, that’s not how things played out at UFC Fight Night: Grasso vs Araújo last October. Instead, his attacks were nullified, and he ended up on the wrong side of a decision loss.
The result sucked away all the quick momentum he built with upset win over Raoni Barcelos in his debut at UFC 270. Such is the fight game, however, and you don’t amass a 22-6 record over the course of 13 years without managing some ups and downs. Although naturally disappointed, “La Mangosta” wasn’t going to let a bad result discourage him.
“It was a tough pill to swallow because I'm feeling like, ‘Oh, I'm gonna go out there, and I'm gonna lay a right hand on him, and then that's going to be good night,’” Henry told UFC.com. “Even with all the training that I did, I still got a game plan, and I think that learning from a fight that had that much going for me, but then still not going my way, it was a tough one.
“I'm hoping that this fight will prove that I can learn from these from these mistakes, and maybe I can learn a lesson from Assuncao and possibly do the same.”
Henry did what has served him well through his 28-fight professional career: moved on and got back into the gym where he trains under the direction of former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett in California.
Even though he certainly made some adjustments that he is taking into his matchup with Tony Gravely at UFC Fight Night: Yan vs Dvalishvili, he didn’t make the kind of wholesale changes that might tip toward a sense of internal doubt.
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“You can't harp on it for too long,” he said. “You use the fire in the training gym, and I did change some things in the gym (but) not too much. I've made a successful career training the way I have, and because I hit a hiccup once or because I lost, you don’t just change the whole recipe. It just means that you’ve got to fine tune things. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. But in this case (against Assuncao), it wasn't the right tool for the job, but it doesn't mean the tool is broken.”
Henry is right back in the mix, however, against a touted bantamweight. There are not many matchups that aren’t intriguing at 135 pounds, but Gravely has shown to be a gritty wrestler with good power and a solid ability to mix things up.
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The Contender Series alumnus might only feature a 4-3 UFC record, but his three losses have come against widely-respected opponents – Brett Johns, Nate Maness and Javid Basharat. Henry, meanwhile, knows he has a quality opportunity in front of him.
“He's very tough,” Henry said. “He's going to be plodding forward. He's not going to be running from the fight. He's going to be in my face the entire time, which kind of plays into my game, I feel like. But I also feel like he's going to be mixing it up pretty well. I have some ideas about what he's going to try to do, according to my last fight, but I want to see if he tries those things, how I adjust, how I grow as a martial artist.”
Staying on the right side of .500 is of the utmost importance to Henry two months away from his 36th birthday. He knows he doesn’t exactly have time to waste sliding down the bantamweight ladder, so he has a particular statement to make on March 11.
“Even though I'm getting older, I don't feel like I'm slowing down,” he said. “I still feel like I'm very capable, and I can keep up with these younger guys.”
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After a long career on the regional circuit, Henry opened 2022 by finally getting his shot at the mixed martial arts leader. Now that he’s here, he intends on cementing his place.
He completely understands what this platform provides, and although he appreciates competing in the Octagon, he knows, at the end of the day, March 11 is nothing more or less than another fight day.
“Fighting is fighting,” he said. “It doesn't change the fact that somebody wants to sock you in the mouth. All the extracurriculars, like the attendance, the venue, the pay, the experience of the other person, all those things are ever-changing. I never really think about those things. I just think about, ‘Oh, somebody's trying to beat my butt up,’ so I got to adjust to that.”
UFC Fight Night: Yan vs Dvalishvili took place live from The Theater At Virgin Hotels Las Vegas on March 11, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive all the action at UFC Fight Pass!
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