UFC 157: Don't Be Surprised If Dan Henderson Never Gets Another Title Shot

McKinley NobleCorrespondent IFebruary 25, 2013

Has Dan Henderson just lost his final chance at a UFC title run? (Photo Credit: UFC)
Has Dan Henderson just lost his final chance at a UFC title run? (Photo Credit: UFC)

Throughout recent years, last-minute injuries and weird accidents have robbed MMA fans of some fantastic potential matches.

Just imagine, what if every UFC fighter stayed healthy?

(And what if there wasn't insurance as their safety net?)

In the past year alone, we've lost Mark Munoz vs. Chael Sonnen, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira vs. Alexander Gustafsson, Urijah Faber vs. Dominick Cruz III, Shane Carwin vs. Roy Nelson, Gray Maynard vs. Joe Lauzon and Forrest Griffin vs. Phil Davis—all due to one injury or another.

Despite all that, perhaps no cancellation was worse than Jon Jones vs. Dan Henderson.

Not only did an injury to Henderson's knee scrap the title fight, but it also set off a chain of events that led to nearly every acceptable replacement turning down a match against the champion.

But Jones himself suffered the most backlash, pulling out of the card altogether when Chael Sonnen was granted a shot at his belt, effectively killing UFC 151 on the spot.

Since then, more facts came to light and it's arguable that the entire incident was more Henderson's fault than anyone else's, as UFC president Dana White himself noted (via MMA Junkie):

"Dan Henderson knew two weeks before the fight," White said Tuesday on FUEL TV's "UFC Tonight." "Two weeks before he told me he was injured, he knew. Had he given me that two weeks like he should have, [UFC 151] might have happened. He's definitely to blame too." 

And with the former Strikeforce and Pride FC two-division champion's recent loss to No. 1 contender Lyoto Machida (by an impressive razor-thin decision, no less), it's probably fair to say that "Hendo" won't sniff a UFC title shot ever again.

Now that he's temporarily out of the title picture, there's nothing left for Henderson but tough fights against stiff competition.

Fringe contenders like Phil Davis, Glover Teixeira, Ryan Bader, Nogueira and even the loser of Gustafsson vs. Gegard Mousasi aren't as difficult to fight as Machida, but they all present challenges that the aging veteran would be hard-pressed to deal with.

Plus, Dana White just might hold that grudge against Hendo for a while.

Ideally, Henderson never should have been fighting Machida in the first place.

After his 3-1 stint in Strikeforce ended with the knockout of Fedor Emelianenko, Hendo's epic battle with Mauricio Rua at UFC 139 is reason enough that he should've had to fight anyone else for a title shot.

But he hid his injury, ruined UFC 151 and forced parent company Zuffa to cancel the event, costing an estimated $40 million (via MMA Fighting's Dave Meltzer).

That puts the former "No.1 contender" in the doghouse.

Plus, White's new stance on testosterone replacement therapy (TRT) means that Henderson, a known patient and longtime user, could be outright blocked from the title picture just like Vitor Belfort might have been, this author suspects.

It might not be fair, but 42-year-old Henderson has possibly missed his last chance at ever holding a UFC title belt, much less even competing for one.

That is, unless Sonnen and Machida suddenly get themselves injured before UFC 159 and every other light heavyweight on the roster inexplicably falls off the face of the Earth at same time. But a situation like that will surely never happen again—right?


McKinley Noble is an MMA conspiracy theorist and FightFans Radio writer. His work has appeared in GamePro, Macworld and PC World. Talk with him on Twitter.