Last night Dan Henderson showed the world that if one dedicates himself to something, he can accomplish whatever he wants, even if he is in the later stages of his career.
It's interesting to see that the Olympic Greco-Roman wrestlers, Henderson and Randy Couture, are the only men to have so much success in to their 40s. Maybe it has something to do with the dedication and never quit attitude required to reach the top in amateur wrestling, or maybe they are just anomalies in the sporting world. In any case, their feats have been impressive to say the least.
Last night Henderson, 41, was fighting the 29-year-old Mauricio Rua—a fight that could have happened back in the days of Pride. Despite being 13 years older, Henderson dominated the younger Rua through the first three rounds of action, which was enough to secure him the unanimous decision victory over the former UFC light heavyweight champion.
Henderson definitely tired in Rounds 4 and 5, and Rua did look like the fresher fighter in the end despite taking the majority of the damage, but Hendo simply being able to beat Rua and endure a five-round war at 41 years of age is impressive to say the least.
What has been so impressive with Henderson late in his career is that, at a time where most guys would be considering retirement while on the descent, Henderson—like a fine wine—seems to be getting better and better with age.
Henderson is 7-1-0 over his last eight fights, the lone loss coming by decision after five rounds against former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields in what was a strange fight for Henderson, with a brawl breaking out after the match. Aside from that, he has knocked out Michael Bisping in what can be described as one of the most spectacular knockouts in UFC history, he knocked out Renato Sobral, beat Rafael Calvacante to capture the Strikeforce light heavyweight belt and knocked out Fedor Emelianenko at heavyweight.
At one point people were calling Henderson "Decision Dan" because his victories often went to the judges' scorecards and weren't the most exciting. Talk about a complete change of direction, and for it to happen at his age makes the feat even more impressive.
All was not perfect in Henderson's win over Rua last night, mind you; he did get caught with an uppercut in Round 4 that had him very wobbled, and in Round 5 he was completely gassed, allowing Rua to secure a takedown and work from the full mount to win the round 10-8. That being said, at 41 years old something has to give, and even though he gassed and got caught, he did enough to win the fight early on and was part of a war that will go down as probably the best fights ever in the UFC.
From here Henderson is on a four-fight-win streak against some pretty tough competition, and it would only make sense to give him a title shot—whether it be at middleweight or light heavyweight, he deserves it.
He will probably have the option of taking on the winner of Jon Jones vs. Lyoto Machida at UFC 140 or the winner of Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen, should that fight eventually come to fruition.
I definitely like Hendo's chances against the likes of Lyoto Machida, Silva and Sonnen, but I feel that current light heavyweight champion Jon Jones may prove to be too much with his youth and explosiveness. This is by no means a knock on Henderson, as Jones has proven to be too much for everybody that has faced him thus far—including Rua and former champion Quinton "Rampage" Jackson.
Regardless, Henderson's ascension back to the top so late in the game has me thoroughly impressed and left scratching my head. What the hell have I been doing at 27 years old? I couldn't do what Henderson is doing now five years ago, and I can't imagine doing anything remotely close to what he is doing at 41. It really boggles one's mind.
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