Dan Henderson Won't Be Too Much of a Challenge for Jon Jones

Leon HorneAnalyst INovember 20, 2011

HOLLYWOOD - MARCH 17:  Legendary MMA Superstar and two time Olympic Wrestler Dan Henderson attends the CBS' Strikeforce MMA Fighters Open Media Workout on March 17, 2010 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)
Valerie Macon/Getty Images

Dan Henderson continued his revitalized run in the light heavyweight division as he beat former UFC champion Mauricio Rua in a five-round war that saw both men take an absolute beating.

At 42, Henderson is showing fans that an old dog can learn new tricks.

Henderson had the nickname "Decision Dan" for a little while, and although his fight with Rua tonight went to a decision, it was far from boring. He came close to finishing on more than one occasion. Prior to tonight's fight, Henderson had four knockouts in his last six fights, including knockouts over the likes of Fedor Emelianenko and Rafael Calvancante.

Henderson found a home for his right hand on numerous occasions against Rua in the first three rounds, but Rua showed his resolve and managed to fight through them despite being hurt badly.

What was concerning: Last night Henderson was completely gassed for the second half of the fight, and spent most of Rounds 4 and 5 hanging on to the three rounds he won at the beginning of the fight.

Despite the beating Rua took early on, he was the fresher of the two fighters after the mid-way point in the fight, and Rua isn't a guy who is known for his conditioning.

Henderson was also vulnerable to Rua's takedowns. Rua isn't a wrestler and Henderson is a former Olympian, yet Rua was able to take Henderson down on a few occasions in the fight. In the latter rounds he really capitalized on those opportunities.

Of course, Rua is a formidable opponent, and just being able to beat him in a fight is good enough. However, if Henderson is truly in line for a light heavyweight title shot, then he'd better hope Lyoto Machida finds a way to beat light heavyweight champion Jon Jones at UFC 140 on December 10.

Jones has the longest reach in the UFC and uses kicks to keep his opponents at a distance. That's something that will make it difficult for Henderson to land his patented right hand.

Couple that with the fact that Jones has a very solid Greco-Roman wrestling game, and probably better endurance than Henderson, it seems like this could be a very difficult matchup for Henderson.

Henderson is the fighter most deserving of a title shot next to Rashad Evans right now. But stylistically, Evans poses a much bigger threat to Jones than Henderson does.

Quinton Jackson is known for his power punching, but Jones made it impossible for Jackson to land and should Henderson end up fighting Jones, one should expect much of the same.

Obviously if Machida finds a way to beat Jones at 140, a Machida vs. Henderson fight becomes a very intriguing matchup.

I have to remember though, that Henderson is always one punch away from discrediting my opinion. The "H-Bomb" has spelled the end for many opponents, particularly late in his career. 


Leon Horne is a writer for Bleacher Report,

Be sure to stay tuned to Bleacher Report for all things UFC 139. B/R is your home for complete coverage of the November 19 fight card, including results and post-fight analysis.