After his last victory over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, via knockout, Dan Henderson seemed like a man who should have been walking back to his dressing room with a UFC belt around his waist.
It was a spirited fight that saw Henderson looking very old and very beatable in Rounds 1 and 2, getting knocked down and seriously hurt in both frames. His come-from-behind knockout of the younger Rua seemed like the perfect ending to a storied career; yet in truth, the career of Henderson seems incomplete.
As a fighter who has accomplished so much, the fact that he has not won a UFC belt is the one glaring oddity in his resume of greatness. For a man such as Henderson, who has been fighting some of the very best fighters in the world for over 17 years, it would seem a given that he would have won a UFC title by now (and probably defended it a few times as well).
He’s come close a time or two; he lost a close decision to Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 75 and later lost via choke to Anderson Silva after winning the first round against the then-pound-for-pound best fighter in the world.
But the simple facts are, he has never won a UFC title of note. The closest he has come was winning the middleweight medal at UFC 17, after defeating Allan Goes and then Carlos Newton on May 15, 1998.
Since then, it’s been many titles in many organizations, save the one promotion that is currently the biggest and best in the world.
Should Henderson retire tomorrow, many a newer fan would dismiss him as nothing more than an old-school fighter who was really never as good as the press made him out to be. This, of course, is a perception that he's hindered by an appreciation of history that can only be truly known by those who experienced it at the time.
Henderson's career has been nothing short of incredible, and that fact should not be lost to history just because the sport is growing at a rate that sees countless fighters rise so high that what has come before is often lost in shadow.
Thus, we present a career retrospective of one of the greatest fighters the sport has known: Dan Henderson. He may not have a UFC title, but he has proven himself, despite that, many times over.