Age: 43 Height: 6'1" Reach: 74"
Fight camp: Team Quest
Record: 30-12 (14 knockouts, 2 submissions)
Last Three Fights
Lost to Daniel Cormier (Sub), UFC 173
Def. Mauricio Rua (KO), UFC Fight Night: Shogun v. Henderson 2
Lost to Vitor Belfort (KO), UFC Fight Night: Belfort v. Henderson
Takedown Average: 1.62, Takedown Accuracy: 54%, Takedown Defense: 58%
Dan Henderson's mediocre wrestling game is one of the surprising truths revealed by our deep dive into the UFC video collection. Despite his many accolades, and they are numerous, Henderson is just not particularly adept here.
Listening to the UFC announcers, you'd never guess that to be the case. And, in their defense, two appearances in the Olympic games speak loudly and authoritatively in favor of Henderson's competence. But 1996 is ancient history, 1992 a lifetime ago.
Perhaps more than two decades ago, Henderson was indeed a dynamo. But even then, he struggled outside the peculiar confines of the Greco-Roman rule set. Once you added in attacks to the legs, Henderson became astoundingly average.
One year after representing the U.S in the Olympics, Henderson lost in the first round of the 1993 NCAA tournament. It was an omen. In the world of Greco, Henderson was the American king. With a more liberal set of rules, like those in folkstyle and MMA, he was and remains only marginal.
Submission Average: 0.4
Watching Henderson flop around on the mat against Daniel Cormier was particularly sad for longtime fans. Hendo was manhandled like a child, tossed like a sack of potatoes and had his guard passed 11 times. It was reminiscent, in a way, of an equally dreadful appearance against Jake Shields back in 2010.
It's not all bad news in the grappling department, however, despite this rudimentary jiu-jitsu game. Perhaps because he has been on his back so frequently throughout his career, Henderson has actually been surprisingly good when forced to defend in such vulnerable positions. He's a survivor, pure and simple.
And if he gets on top, lord help his opponent. He puts his full 190 pounds behind every punch. He can do serious damage, especially in the moments of chaos that follow a takedown or an attempt to get back to the feet. It's there that Hendo is especially deadly—just ask the great Fedor Emelianenko.
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 2.38, Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 2.55
Ah, the famed Henderson H-Bomb. A brilliant piece of branding, sure. After all, who else has their own patented strike?
But, as a fighter, discovering thunder in his right hand may have been the worst thing to ever happen to Henderson. Sure, no one will ever call him "Decision Dan" ever again. But it's come at a heavy price.
In recent years, especially since his famous knockout win over Michael Bisping at UFC 100, Henderson has become a headhunter. His game, once a well-rounded mix of Greco-Roman clinch work, swarming attacks on the feet, and, yes, the big right hand, has devolved to the point that it's almost exclusively focused on landing the big bomb.
But, appearances to the contrary, MMA fighters are not dumb.
They saw quite clearly what Henderson was doing and adjusted. Once they figured out he was using a little leg kick to hold opponents in place for the H-Bomb, it was all over for Hendo. He's lost four of his last five, and unless he can find a better way to land his singular weapon, it's a streak that won't end anytime soon.
At 43, and with the crutch of legal testosterone use yanked cruelly away, Henderson's career looks to be all but over. Cormier didn't just beat him handily—he embarrassed him. In his previous bout, a win over Mauricio Rua, Henderson looked downright terrible before his right hand rescued him from yet another loss. Henderson didn't just look old. He looked slow, sad and ponderous, desperately trying the only technique he now knows.
At one time, there were serious debates about Henderson's place in MMA history. Was he the greatest American fighter ever? I think Jon Jones has closed the book on that discussion for good. But the fact Henderson's name was even mentioned speaks volumes.
His prowess in his prime is unquestioned. Unfortunately, he peaked years ago, at a time when giants reigned in the light heavyweight class. Men like Chuck Liddell, Wanderlei Silva and Rampage Jackson stood in his way, preventing Henderson from ever ascending to the very top of his weight class, let alone the sport.
The memories, however, are numerous. If only Henderson would walk away, allowing us to wallow in the past, without worrying about his health and well-being in the present.