UFC 145 Results: What Dan Henderson Has to Do to Defeat Jon Jones
No fighter is invincible, but Jon Jones is as close as they come.
Mauricio Rua, Lyoto Machida, Quinton Jackson and, most recently, Rashad Evans have all fallen to the UFC light heavyweight champ.
Former Pride and Strikeforce champion Dan Henderson is next in line. How can the 41-year-old future Hall of Famer succeed where so many others have failed?
It's going to be tough. Outside of a massive overhand right and strong wrestling, Henderson doesn't really have much to offer Jones.
Still, history has taught us to never count out Dan Henderson. The rugged MMA veteran has fought and defeated countless legends, ranging from middleweight to heavyweight.
Does he have what it takes to defeat Jon Jones?
The proof will be in the pudding. At only 24 years of age, Jones is already being considered as an all-time great. To pull off the upset, Henderson will have to put on the best performance of his legendary career.
Here are three things he has to do to defeat Jones.
Close the Distance
The toughest part about Jones' game is having to deal with his incredible reach.
Evans had the right mindset in trying to stay in Jones' face and force him to exchange in the pocket, but as "Sugar" learned at UFC 145, it's easier said than done.
Jones uses front kicks and sidekicks to maintain distance and keep his opponents lingering outside the pocket.
At a distance, Jones is at a great advantage. He can use his reach to pick his opponents apart with a multitude of different strikes and set up unorthodox techniques in the open.
Henderson has to make this an ugly fight. His striking isn't even close to being proficient enough to out-land Jones. He has to find a way to collapse the pocket and force Jones into unnecessary exchanges.
Jones obliged Evans in a couple of wild exchanges, which quickly ended in him backpedaling out of the pocket.
Henderson has to make Jones fight his fight.
Set Up Overhand Right
Typically, the overhand is the most effective strike against a taller opponent.
Fortunately for Henderson, he's been blessed with one of the best overhands in MMA history. It has to find its mark and test the young champion's chin.
Henderson landing his legendary right hand will depend on feints and his ability to close the distance. Recently, Henderson has relied on ducking his head and winging wild overhands. This won't work against Jones.
Jackson came in with a similar game plan in September 2011, except his weapon of choice was hooks.
Jones merely danced around the predictable offense and picked Jackson apart from afar.
The toughest test for Henderson will be finding a way inside to set up the overhand. He doesn't have the striking prowess of Jackson, Evans or Machida. He'll have to get creative. The same reckless style that has claimed so many others won't be enough against Jones.
Use Wrestling to Slow Fight Down
Henderson and fans have grown fond of his scrappy striking, but it's high time he gets back to his wrestling roots.
He needs to slow the pace of the fight with takedowns in the open and clinch work against the fence.
If Henderson can find a way to implement this strategy, it would be huge against Jones, who has yet to even be taken down in the UFC.
Takedowns in the open would be incredible, but realistically, Henderson certainly lacks the same spring in his shot as Evans.
His best chance is to close the distance and trap Jones against the fence. This is a classic Randy Couture strategy, and Henderson has the Greco-Roman skillset to implement it to perfection.
He'll have to stay out of clinches in the open. People continue to overlook Jones' grappling, but there are few fighters in the sport better than Jones when it comes to takedowns from the clinch.
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