UFC 139 Results: 5 Things Dan Henderson Needs To Improve on
Against a fighter like Shogun Rua, Henderson showed a few flaws that might be capitalized on if they fight again or if Henderson gets a shot against Jon Jones or Anderson Silva.
Henderson has always been an elite fighter, but he has never held onto UFC gold. He has won titles in PRIDE and Strikeforce, but the most recognized title will always elude him unless he is able to expand his repertoire.
Henderson may be 41, but he is still one of the most dominant fighters in MMA today and it wouldn't be surprising if he could learn a few new tricks or iron out some quirks.
Here are the five things Henderson needs to work on if he wants to win a title.
It's hard to believe that this is one of the points, but it is.
The truth is that Henderson has more stamina than most. The problem is that Henderson wants to set an insane pace and keep it throughout the entire fight. That is fine, but if his opponent can match it then he needs to be able to bring it for all five rounds, especially if he gets a title shot against a champion who is used to fighting in them.
Henderson is an amazing fighter and put on a thrilling fight with Rua, but at the end he was getting beaten by his opponent and if there had been one more round it might not have been Henderson's hand that was raised.
It is a flaw that might only get worse as he gets older so while he does need to gain stamina he also needs to do another thing in connection with it.
Control His Pace and Tempo
Henderson is 41 as mentioned before and that means that the body starts to slow down.
He is such an athlete that it hasn't happened yet, and if it has it hasn't shown.
Though Henderson needs to get more cardio if he continues to fight the way he does he also needs to get better at controlling the pace.
Rua seemed to be able to drag Henderson into a barn-burner of a fight, but one that he might not have been equipped to handle for five rounds. It almost cost him the fight and at his age, it might be his last run.
He needs to know how much energy he can afford to spend per round and ration it out as such. It doesn't mean that he needs to slow the pace to a crawl, but he needs to fight at a level he is comfortable with and that his body can stand.
Going for Submissions Only When There Is a Good Chance of Getting Them
Submission attempts are exhausting. Between one fighter attempting to get out of such moves and the amount of pressure that needs to be applied, they are tiring.
They help put lactic acid through all the muscles and burn an incredible amount of energy. Whereas striking can make a fighter lose his breath, especially if he misses, the constant needed output from a submission attempt makes it the harsher of the two.
Henderson is a phenomenal wrestler. He is a former two-time Olympian and is a lifetime grappler who has successfully made the transition to MMA.
With that said he is going to burn himself out in fights if he goes for submission attempts when there isn't a large enough opening or when it seems like his opponent will be able to break out of it. In the end it will just weaken Henderson and make it harder for him to capitalize when his opponent really is ready to be taken out.
Have More Complete Striking
Henderson is known for his right hand and he should be.
The power he has in it is brutal and can take out any fighter at middleweight or light heavyweight and, much like former light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell, he can land it at any point in the fight.
Unfortunately, just like Liddell, he seems to rely on it more than he should. He doesn't really elbow or knee much and more than anything he doesn't kick.
Some of this might have to do with his wrestling background and his subconscious desire to keep a strong base.
He competes in mixed martial arts though and if he wants to be a champion he is going to need to learn how to strike more effectively and from different angles, at different body parts and from different ranges.
A good kickboxing camp would do him wonders.
Work on His Submission Defense
The biggest thing that almost cost him the fight with Shogun Rua is also what cost him his fight with Anderson Silva.
Simply put, Henderson needs to work on his defense when it comes to Brazilian jiu-jitsu. He isn't the only talented wrestler to struggle with it as Chael Sonnen also lost his title fight because of this flaw, but that is no excuse.
He had his leg snagged twice which almost cost him the fight either time. There were countless other times in the fight where Rua was starting to get some leverage and Henderson had to abandon his plan of attack and try something else.
Henderson needs to realize that effective Brazilian jiu-jitsu can counter any holes left open by a great wrestler and, as he climbs up the ladder, he will meet the fighter who can seize those openings and beat him.
If he doesn't fix that problem, he will either end up getting submitted by Silva again, or becoming another victim of Jon Jones.
And if that happens, Henderson will have no one but himself to blame.