Dan Henderson: What Options Does He Have Left After UFC 157?
Dan Henderson came into UFC 157 with a simple game plan of attempting to touch Lyoto Machida's chin with his vaunted right hand. Unfortunately for the Team Quest fighter, that opportunity never presented itself.
Henderson looked every bit of a 42-year-old fighter in chasing Machida around the Octagon for 15 minutes. Even when Henderson found himself in an advantageous position like he did when he had Machida clinched in the first round or in Machida's guard in the final frame, Henderson couldn't mount any offense.
At 42 years old Henderson can't afford any losses as he attempts to battle Father Time. It's obvious he's out of the light heavyweight title picture after losing to Machida, but Henderson's career is far from over.
The former Pride and Strikeforce champ has a handful of avenues left to explore in order to keep his career going.
Bump Up to Heavyweight
Cutting weight for anyone isn't fun. Being 42 years old and having to cut weight is not only not fun but also a task in itself.
By bumping up to heavyweight, Dan Henderson wouldn't have to worry about cutting back on his diet and could instead focus on improving his game.
I'm not claiming Henderson would immediately be a contender in the division, but there are some fun fights to be had if Henderson were to bump up in weight. He would likely have a speed advantage, something he rarely enjoys, and we know his punching power would follow with him no matter what weight Henderson fights at.
This avenue seems the least likely of all his options due to Dana White not being a fan of "freak show/novelty fights" but with little opportunity for a title shot at light heavyweight, Henderson may not enjoy the luxury of having a number of choices at his disposal.
Drop to Middleweight
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Dan Henderson has been pretty vocal in the past about his desire to avoid cutting down to 185 pounds, and given how exhausted he looked in his last trip to 185 pounds it's hard to argue with him.
Yet, very few would've placed money on Henderson's chances at beating Jon Jones and now even fewer will envision "Hendo" reaching an UFC title shot anytime soon.
That could change if Henderson were to drop down as it's clear UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva is being extremely picky about who he defends his title against. If Silva wants a big-money fight he needs to not look any further than Henderson, as he's one of MMA's most popular fighters.
There's also the fact that Henderson won the first round of his bout with Silva before abandoning his grappling strategy. Perhaps Henderson would look to utilize his wrestling advantage more after seeing how effective his training partner Chael Sonnen was in his meetings with Silva?
Even if Henderson doesn't defeat Silva, it'd still be a marketable fight for the UFC and the fighters involved; something "The Spider" seems to think is in short supply at 185 pounds.
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Rashad Evans lost an ugly fight to Antonio Rogerio Nogueira earlier this month. Evans looked like he had lost his desire to fight and seemed to mulling retirement. Those plans have been put on hold as Evans will continue fighting.
It makes sense for these two to match up as both Evans and Henderson are coming off losses and both are considered top contenders.
It's a high-profile fight which benefits both men's wallets and would surely vault one into a title shot if they were to win convincingly. I don't know how Henderson would fare against Evans due to his speed and athleticism, but that's assuming Evans comes into his next fight with his head in the right place.
If Henderson wants to remain at 205 pounds, this is the fight that makes the most sense for him.