Dan Henderson returns to the Octagon for the first time since a devastating knockout victory over Michael Bisping two years ago.
Henderson took his talents to Strikeforce where he claimed victory in three consecutive fights and captured the light heavyweight championship.
With knockout victories over Fedor Emelianenko, Rafael Cavalcante and Renato Sobral, Henderson became a highly-sought-after free agent. Needless to say, UFC brass didn't waste time signing the future Hall of Famer back to the light heavyweight roster.
In anticipation of his return to the Octagon at UFC 139 opposite Mauricio "Shogun" Rua in the night's headliner, there's no lack of excitement for Henderson.
"I’m going to finish up my career in the UFC and I am excited by it; and the fact the UFC has a huge FOX deal now makes it even more exciting," Henderson today said at UFC 139's media events. "I am not going to worry about my next fight—as far as getting a title shot—I need to win this fight and then the rest will take care of itself. I need to win in the Octagon this weekend first before I talk about what’s next. Shogun is a very dangerous opponent; this is a fight I wanted to happen years ago in PRIDE and he’s a name that will look good on my record."
For a fighter who has held championships in PRIDE and Strikeforce, Henderson could walk away from the sport already set in the history books. However, there's one piece of gold that he's yet to capture.
"I think it is fair to say I’ve accomplished a lot in the sport, but one thing I have not accomplished is winning the UFC title," Henderson said. "I like to set goals and that’s a big one: winning the UFC title."
A victory over Rua certainly places him in title talk, and Henderson believes he has the time needed to work towards the championship regardless of age.
"I feel I have got a lot of fights left in myself," he said. "I am 41 and feel great. I’m not putting a time limit on anything. I think I can put a game plan together to beat anyone out there. I am aggressive throughout the whole fight and always trying to finish a fight, although Shogun is very good and well-rounded so that will be a challenge to do."
Henderson has 13 knockouts to his credit with three coming over the past 11 months, so he may very well be in his prime despite being 41 years old.
As for how he feels about his opponent's pre-fight statement regarding knocking Henderson out, the California resident wishes Shogun luck in being the first man to ever stop him by knockout.
"I am going to try to out-strike Shogun. I am going to try to beat him in every aspect of MMA. I guess I could get knocked out like anyone can get knocked out, but I’ve been lucky enough not to get hit on the button yet. But, him saying he’s going to be the first man to knock me out, good luck to him on that one."
Joshua Carey is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand.
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