After years of speculation and intrigue surrounding his toothpick habit during MMA bouts, former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson has finally come clean about the matter. Henderson admitted that he fought with a toothpick in his mouth for many fights throughout his career, saying that it was simply a bad habit that he couldn’t shake. He explained that he would often leave toothpicks in his mouth after meals and forget they were there when he was training or practicing, leading to him accidentally leaving them in for fights.
The habit was first noticed during his 2012 title defense against Nate Diaz, and from then on, it continued to crop up every now and again. Many fans, officials, and fellow fighters were left wondering how Henderson could possibly compete at such a high level with a toothpick in his mouth, but somehow he managed to pull it off.
However, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for Henderson’s toothpick habit. In fact, there was one incident in his pre-UFC days that almost sent him to the hospital. He had gone home to surprise his mom and scared her as she was walking down the stairs. Henderson had a toothpick in his mouth at the time and accidentally swallowed it, causing his mom to panic. Thankfully, there was no permanent damage, and Henderson learned his lesson about the dangers of his habit.
Now that he’s a father of four, Henderson says he’s given up toothpicks for good out of fear of his children trying to copy him and potentially hurting themselves. He’s replaced them with chewing gum, which, to his surprise, wasn’t as difficult a transition as he thought it would be.
Overall, Henderson’s toothpick habit remains one of the more unique quirks in MMA history, and it’s interesting to hear him finally open up about it after all these years.