Local Fighters

The Best Chicago Fighter You’ve Never Heard Of: Tyrone Henderson

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Tyrone Henderson - Road FC

by Matt Lo Cascio

The best Chicago fighter you’ve never heard of resides not on the south side of the city, the north side or even in the burbs. He lives thousands of miles away in South Korea where he serves our country — and wrecks people in a cage. His name is Tyrone Henderson.

Fighters, fans and promoters may not be familiar all that with him, but Henderson says soon everyone will know his name. “Featherweights have no idea about the storm that’s coming their way.”

Henderson, who turned pro just over a year ago, is 3-0-1 with three spectacular finishes. All of his fights have been for Road FC, which bills itself as the number one MMA league in Asia and has featured fighters like Marlon Sandro, Mighty Mo and the one and only Hong Man Choi.

The draw came in Henderson’s first pro fight, and he says it changed him as a fighter.

“It was the best thing that happened to me and the worst thing for everyone else because it unleashed the beast inside me. My next three fights were all first round finishes. Fighters are worried about getting a nice record so they can get to the higher circuit. I’m different because I focus on getting better. I want the competition. These fighters are too political. Fight me. I don’t care who I fight. I don’t choose them, I accept them,” Henderson told Chicago’s MMA.

Tytone Henderson Road FC

Tyrone Henderson looks to finish every time he is in the cage.

Henderson grew up on 147th Street in Harvey and moved to Flossmoor. He says he spent two years at Rich Central, then two at Homewood-Flossmoor, where he graduated in 2004. He ran track, played football and basketball, and wrestled in high school, but got in with the wrong crowd.

“I was an athlete but I was hanging in the streets, getting in trouble. I saw a path of destruction in front of me so I made a right turn and joined the army.”

Henderson says he fought as an amateur in the army until 2011 just for fun and as a hobby. He was deployed a few times then turned pro in 2013.

“When I joined the military, I competed in several MMA tournaments and won. I realized I had a true gift. It took me a while to understand the techniques of each skill but eventually I fought in the right tournament and got noticed by some pro fighters in Hawaii.”

One coach in particular made a huge difference for Henderson: Scott Junk, the former pro fighter from Hawaii, who made it to the UFC in 2007. Junk had seven finishes in his eight pro wins, something that seems to have rubbed off on Henderson.

“He helped mold my raw talent into technical skill and helped focus my determination and motivation to be the best.”

Henderson enters the cage then looks to end the fight. His three wins have all been thrilling, first-round finishes.

“I am a finisher. I’ve always been that way. The judges can go home.  KO, TKO, submission — I will find a way to destroy my enemy and finish the fight. This is not for fun to me. I will make it to the top.”

Tyrone Henderson Road FCLike most fighters, Henderson aspires to reach the top level in the game and would like to fight for the UFC. But right now he’s open to fighting anyone, anywhere. While he has only four pro fights, he says he could compete and win in the UFC right now.

“I am ready for any circuit. If there is a promoter that thinks otherwise then put the fighter you think is better then me in the cage with me and I will give you real-time proof. The UFC is every fighter’s dream. I want to fight Max Holloway, I want to fight a top fighter. The only differences between me and these well-known fighters is their opportunities were given to them. Opportunity skipped my door but I will chase opportunity all the way down and make it my bitch if that will make fights happen.”

While it can be difficult to be stationed overseas and juggle two careers at the same time, Henderson says it’s all one big training camp to him.

“I am a very resilient person. I feel being in the military and fighting gives me an advantage. My will power, my focus and my attention to detail comes from being in military.”

While he serves in South Korea, Henderson will be in Washington in January and would love to get a fight in while he’s there.

“I am available to fight whenever there is a fighter willing to fight me. I’m always in shape and there isn’t a fighter out there that is ready for my level of intensity.”

He would also like to fight here in Chicago one day. Until then, he’ll keep doing what he has been doing as a pro, wrecking people in the cage and making crowds jump out of their seats. Eventually, he knows his dream will come true.

“I plan on being a household name, but more importantly a champion.”

Click here to watch Tyrone Henderson highlights!

Hypnotik Chicago Fight Shorts

Hypnotik Chicago Shorts

About Matt Lo Cascio

Matt Lo Cascio is a former TV producer who turned to new media in 2005, and he is the co-founder and editor of Chicago's MMA. He is also the play-by-play announcer for the XFO. His work has been published by ESPN.com, DraftKings, The Comeback, FanSided and more.

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