UFC 139 Fight Card: Can Dan Henderson Make Another Title-Run?
Questions surround Dan Henderson and his future, as he is about to embark on his third tour of duty in the UFC.
This Saturday he steps into the octagon with Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua in San Jose, California, in what is sure to be an intense main event.
What does this go-around mean for Hendo at this stage in his career? Let’s take a look at a number of varying factors that play into his third, and most likely last, stint in the UFC.
He's No Spring Chicken
Dan Henderson is 41 years old and obviously in the twilight of his career, so making a run at either the Light Heavyweight or Middleweight belts would have to come within the next year or so, if he impresses enough to even get a shot.
It’s just hard at that age to make it to the top of the mountain, especially when the guys standing on top are younger, faster and just as strong, if not stronger.
Winning the Heavyweight Championship at the age of 43 was an extraordinary feat for Randy Couture and something that seems unlikely at this point in his Hendo’s career.
There’s no doubting Henderson’s desire to fight and compete, but there is reason to doubt his desire to want to compete in the UFC.
He left the UFC in 2009 after his KO win over Michael ‘The Count’ Bisping at UFC 100. They parted ways after a contract dispute that clearly frustrated both sides and eventually pushed him to sign with Strikeforce.
With Zuffa LLC’s purchase of Strikeforce earlier this year, Hendo found himself having to negotiate with Dana White again.
Altough negotiations went better this time around, it still remains to be seen if he will play out his whole contract, or if he'll do what Randy Couture did and walk away with fights remaining.
Record in the UFC
His UFC record is 5-2, but if you throw out his two wins back in the late 90s, he has a very unimpressive 3-2 record in his second stint with MMA’s elite company.
His only eye-opening fight in the UFC came in the KO win over Michael Bisping. He did show some flashes of brilliance against Anderson Silva, but that still ended in a second-round submission loss.
He’s recently impressed a ton of critics with his knockouts in Strikeforce, including a first-round TKO of Fedor Emelianenko.
A best case scenario for a title shot would be a minimum of two dominating wins in a row.
It Starts With Beating Shogun
For Dan Henderson to garner any serious title consideration, he has to hit the octagon with a fierce rage this Saturday night and not just beat Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua, but do it convincingly.
That’s a much taller order than it sounds, however.
Even though Hendo is coming off a big TKO win over Fedor Emelianenko, Shogun is coming off a huge KO of his own over Forrest Griffin, shaking off his crushing loss to Jon ‘Bones’ Jones where he lost the Light Heavyweight belt.
Shogun is plotting his own assent back up the light-heavyweight ranks, so Hendo better bring it because there’s no doubt Rua will.
Which Weight Class Best Suits Him?
This is a legitimate question. What route does he take?
On one hand, he makes a better fit at 185 because he is a smaller guy at 5’11” and normally walks around at about 207 lbs.
Losing to middleweight champ Anderson Silva, is something that probably weighs on his mind and the thought of avenging that loss I’m sure intrigues him.
On the other hand, taking a run at 205 means facing the likes of Lyoto Machida and light heavyweight Champ Jon ‘Bones’ Jones.
Both of those guys are younger, bigger, faster and stronger. Jones has yet to be tested by anyone on his way to winning the belt, raising speculation that he may be the one who could actually knock off Anderson Silva (one more title defense by each guy and we may see that fight).
Either class he chooses will be a rough road to travel, making me believe that dropping down to 170 and getting a rematch with Jake Shields (a decision loss in a Strikeforce middleweight title fight) makes the most sense.
Getting a win there would no doubt set him up for a run at Georges St. Pierre.
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