Immediately after UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson was declared the winner of his UFC on Fox 5 bout with Nate Diaz, UFC commentator Joe Rogan asked about a toothpick. Henderson is known for having a toothpick hanging from his mouth outside the cage -- it's been in his mouth every time I've interviewed him -- but he wouldn't fight with a toothpick in his mouth, right? Henderson was elusive and wouldn't really answer Rogan's question.
He wasn't any more forthcoming in the post-fight press conference.
"I cannot confirm or deny that," Henderson said. "I normally do, yeah. I have it in through practices, and when I spar, when I fight. It's a bad habit, but whatever. I've gotten away with it so far."
At least he admits that it's a bad habit. It's not illegal, but it is a bad idea. Fighting with a small piece of wood in your mouth opens the door for all kinds of silly injuries. The broken arms and head contusions we're used to in MMA will look like scrapes and bruises if we see a toothpick lodge itself in Henderson or his opponent.
But maybe it won't ever bother him. When Michael Jordan played basketball, he always had a piece of gum in his mouth. He would chomp, chomp, chomp when at the free-throw line, when bringing the ball up the court, or when trash-talking his opponent. I always was convinced he would choke when going for the ball, but it didn't happen. Hopefully, Henderson's toothpick will be just a nasty habit, and not a nasty injury we can never forget.
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