In a rematch of the 2011 Fight of the Year, Dan Henderson once again got the better of Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, as he came away victorious at UFC Fight Night 38 on Sunday.
ESPN's MMA Live had the news:
WOW!!! Dan Henderson DROPS Shogun Rua for the finish in round 3.— ESPN MMA LIVE (@ESPN_MMALIVE) March 24, 2014
USA Today's Ben Fowlkes details how the fight ended:
Replay shows Hendo landed one right on the clinch break, then another as Shogun tried to sit up. Done.— Ben Fowlkes (@benfowlkesMMA) March 24, 2014
I think it's safe to say Dana White enjoyed the fight:
OMFG!!!!!!!!!!— Dana White (@danawhite) March 24, 2014
What a sick FIGHT!!!!!!!!! Hendo vs Shogun 2— Dana White (@danawhite) March 24, 2014
Hendo was lucky to last past the first round after a vicious blow in the second round, as the UFC's official Twitter account points out:
That uppercut would have finished 99.9999999999% of the world! #UFCFightNight Wow!— UFC (@ufc) March 24, 2014
He showed the granite chin that has become his trademark. He was also rocked in the first frame, but Shogun couldn't finish the 43-year-old veteran.
Both Rua and Henderson have struggled since their meeting three years ago, but the old magic was rekindled as they put on a great show for the fans. Not only was the fight entertaining, but the atmosphere was great in front of partisan, pro-Rua crowd.
The event took place in Natal, Brazil, and it's possible that being on home soil put a little too much pressure on Rua. A late comeback bid by Shogun fell just short against Henderson in 2011, and he was once again unable to put together a complete fight on Sunday.
With the loss, Shogun is now 2-3 since his initial loss to Henderson, and he has been unable to put together any type of winning streak. There were definite questions regarding the 32-year-old light heavyweight's form entering Sunday's bout, and they will almost certainly persist.
I have always been with great coaches, but I lacked motivation. With the training here in Sao Paulo my motivation raised again because I'm just another fighter. In Curitiba, the coaches were hired by me and they were focusing only on me. Now, here in Sao Paulo, I have good athletes that help me like Demian Maia and Daniel Sarafian.
Unfortunately for Shogun, that didn't translate to the Octagon.
As inconsistent as Rua looked leading up to Sunday's contest, Henderson seemed to be in even direr straits. Henderson's win over Shogun in 2011 marked his seventh win in eight fights, but he was winless ever since.
Henderson entered UFC Fight Night 38 having lost three fights in a row, and Hendo desperately needed a positive result in order to turn things around.
Henderson's back was essentially against the wall, and he came through with flying colors. There was plenty of talk about the Henderson potentially retiring in the near future, but perhaps the whispers will be put on hold for now.
Even with that win, trouble could be on the horizon for Hendo. A recent rule change may adversely impact his ability to perform moving forward. According to Steven Marrocco of USA Today, UFC has banned testosterone-replacement therapy, and the ban will begin now that Rua and Henderson have fought.
Henderson has utilized TRT since 2007, and it remains to be seen how the elimination of TRT will hurt or help him moving forward.
Per Marrocco, Henderson is confident that he can cope without it, and he doesn't intend to retire any time soon.
I don't think TRT has anything to do with my skills as a fighter. I think I get sick a little bit less and have a little more energy. I don't lay on the couch as much when I'm on TRT, but it's not the reason I've done as well as I've done in the sport ... I have no plans of retiring at all. I just signed a six-fight deal, and I plan on achieving my goals within those six fights.
Henderson clearly still has the desire to compete at a high level in UFC, and he gave it his all against Rua. At Henderson's age it is inevitable that his skills will begin to decline at some point, but he proved that there is still some gas left in the tank.
He is obviously still a big draw as evidenced by the interest in his fight against Rua, and Sunday's victory should net him some more big opponents moving forward.
As for Rua, he now finds himself in a tough situation. He remains an extremely popular fighter, but he is no longer the dominant guy that he once was.
Shogun will likely continue to be placed in high-profile fights because of his name recognition, however, his time as an elite fighter may be over.
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