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Benson Henderson's plan is still to 'beat up' Anthony Pettis, but he's open to moving up to welterweight

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Benson Henderson has a big fight with Donald Cerrone on Sunday night. But after that? Things are up in the air.

The former UFC lightweight champion still has plans at making another run at that belt. Henderson, though, has not ruled out a move up to welterweight. He's also open to going back and forth between the two divisions depending on the fights available to him.

"I think there's some interesting matchups at 170," Henderson told "I wasn't a big fan of it early in my career. As you get older, it's a little bit tougher to make weight. I'm more open to the idea of going to 170. Bouncing back between 170 and 155? I'd probably be OK with that."

Henderson meets Cerrone in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night: McGregor vs. Siver in Boston. It's a significant fight for "Smooth," mostly because he's in uncharted territory. Henderson was knocked out by Rafael dos Anjos in August and he has never lost two straight in his career. In fact, that loss to dos Anjos was his first defeat in a non-title fight in the UFC or WEC.

For the last three or four years, Henderson has been regarded as either the best lightweight in the world or a very close second. That's no longer the case. Pettis and dos Anjos are ahead of him. So is Khabib Nurmagomedov at this point and maybe Gilbert Melendez, too. Even Cerrone is ranked higher and Henderson has beaten him twice (both in WEC).

Like most fighters, Henderson doesn't pay much attention to rankings. He's sarcastic about their relevance. And he might be right. Henderson believes that all it would take is one impressive victory for him to be back in that title conversation, even though he has lost to Pettis twice. After all, if Cerrone is getting another crack at Henderson after two losses, why couldn't the UFC give Henderson another shot at Pettis?

"If that's the game you want to play, numbers game, rankings wise, that's fine for me," Henderson said. "I don't care. I know I'm a top contender. I'll always be a top contender as long as I choose to fight. I know everybody who I face off against is gonna be tough."

Henderson (21-4) feels the same way about welterweight if he were to make that jump. He wouldn't just want to move up and face a journeyman. Henderson would be down for a top contender right away.

That change has not been decided yet, though. Henderson, 31, admits he comes from an old-school wrestling background where you try to cut as much weight as you possibly can so you can be bigger and stronger than your opponent. But there are reasons to believe that isn't always the best thing.

"The new school of thought is wrestle at your natural weight, fight at your natural weight," Henderson said. "It'll be an easier time. You don't have to worry cutting weight. You won't get tired. You'll be a little bit quicker, you'll be faster and [have] a little bit better agility against bigger opponents. We'll see. There's pros and cons to both."

None of that will be hashed out until after the Cerrone fight. Things change quickly in the UFC. Up until last week, Henderson thought he'd be fighting Eddie Alvarez on Sunday. With the way injuries go, would it be completely shocking to see Henderson in a lightweight title eliminator or even title fight in 2015? Probably not.

"The plan right now is to keep working my way up, keep winning, get my hand raised," Henderson said. "The same game plan as before. Get the belt back around my waist, face off against Anthony Pettis if he still has the belt and beat him up -- beat him up bad -- and get my belt back."