Henderson and Rua put on one of the best fights in the history of MMA.
At least that is how Dana White put it.
Normally the UFC promoter is known to have bouts of hyperbole in which he tries to make the fight or event grander then it was. UFC 139 was not one of these times. When White said that it was one of his top three fights of all time, he might not have had his promoter persona on.
He might have just been what anyone else was who witnessed that fight Saturday night.
An excited fan.
It started as a one-sided beatdown by Henderson, but quickly changed as Rua was able to knock Henderson down. When Henderson finally was on top of Rua and seemingly in control, the Brazilian warrior was able to get his leg and almost submit him.
Between a bunch of swung leather and submission attempts, the fight had it all. It was so impressive that by the time the fourth and fifth rounds came and both fighters were exhausted, the crowd was willing to forgive any absences in the action.
It was a fight that stood out on a card that had Martin Kampmann-Rick Story, Urijah Faber-Brian Bowles and Wanderlei Silva-Cung Le. Each of these fights delivered with the next one being better than the last.
After the Silva-Le fight it would be hard to imagine a better fight than that. The main event just couldn't be as great; it almost never happens.
But miracles happen. MMA fans got a rare treat and were able to see the most exciting type of fight in all of sports combat: two brilliant fighters pushing a technically sound, fast-paced, aggressive fight. They took it to the wall, the cage floor and the center of the Octagon. No part of the battlefield went unused.
And even though the fight might have been stopped a few different times, it wasn't, and fans got to see Rua make a comeback and end up taking the fight to Henderson.
By the late rounds, Rua was getting in more offense. It was too little too late to get the decision win, but it was awe-inspiring.
When the final bell rang, there was only one way the match could have been spoiled. It had already been saved from incompetent refereeing and now all it needed was decent judges.
And when the scores were read 48-47 in favor of Henderson, fans got to see the perfect fight, with perfect refereeing and perfect judging.
It's hard for fans to sometimes remember why fights are worth watching. Sometimes there are robberies, the best fights don't get made, or a fighter doesn't get signed or leaves the company.
And then there are fights like this to remind them why they watch: to see the best fighters in the world do what they do best and struggle against each other as they try to become legendary.
Rua and Henderson are both spectacular fighters who will most likely each end up with Hall of Fame careers and plenty of memorable fights, but this one stands out from the rest.
It is a fight fans can watch over and over again. It is something that might be shown on ESPN Classic 20 years from now.
Simply put, it was one of the best fights ever from two of the best fighters in the world.
And we were lucky enough to get to see it.