On March 15, 1998 Dan "Hendo" Henderson was crowned the UFC 17 middleweight champion after defeating Allan Goes and Carlos Newton back-to-back that same evening. Those two victories ran his professional MMA record to 4 - 0 and his UFC record to 2 - 0.
It would be over nine years before Henderson stepped back inside the UFC octagon on September 8, 2007 at UFC 75.
In between, Henderson would become one of the greatest mixed martial arts fighters ever tearing through RINGS and the PRIDE Fighting Championships.
When PRIDE was purchased by Zuffa, LLC, the parent company of the UFC, in March 2007 Henderson arguably had the gaudiest resume of any PRIDE fighter at the time. He was both the PRIDE welterweight (183 pound limit) and PRIDE middleweight (205 pound limit) champion.
He still remains the only fighter in the history of mixed martial arts in a major MMA organization to hold titles in two separate weight classes simultaneously.
Once he was signed on for his second tour of UFC duty he fought UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at the aforementioned UFC 75 event to unify the PRIDE and UFC 205 pound belts.
The fight was a five round back and forth battle. However, after the five rounds it was clear that Henderson had not done enough to overthrow the champion. Jackson's size and strength were simply too much for Henderson to handle.
Henderson is a guy that normally walks around near the 200 pound mark and does not have to cut to make 205. Jackson, like so many other light heavyweights, walks around in the 215 - 225 range and cuts to 205.
Needless to say, it was a disappointing and humbling night for Henderson.
For his next fight the UFC management wanted him to drop down to 185, which is his natural weight class, and put his 185 pound title on the line at UFC 82 on March 1, 2008.
Once again the PRIDE and UFC belts would be unified for this matchup.
Henderson is not one to shy away from any fight regardless of his opponent or the weight class. He's fought some of the toughest guys in the world including current UFC interim heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira who he defeated in 2000. Nogueira had roughly forty pounds on Henderson for that fight. Nonetheless, Henderson went toe-to-toe with him and walked away with a split decision victory.
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