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Dan Henderson Suffers Second Consecutive Setback, but Staves Off UFC Retirement Talk

Posted on by Ryan McKinnell

Dan Henderson UFC 157 Pre 7For UFC stalwart and MMA legend Dan Henderson, his third trip through the world’s premier fighting organization has not gone to plan.

“Hendo” made his UFC debut at UFC 17, winning the night’s middleweight tournament.  After UFC 17, he went overseas to compete in various promotions; most notably Japan’s Pride FC, where he accumulated numerous titles and had countless memorable fights.

In 2007, the UFC purchased Pride and Henderson found himself back in the company for the second time.  After having a wildly successful second run, Henderson left the UFC for rival Strikeforce after a victorious highlight reel knockout over Michael Bisping at the historic UFC 100.

While competing in Strikeforce, Henderson earned the promotion’s light heavyweight title and scored a prized win over MMA enigma Fedor Emelianenko, thus positioning himself as the top-ranked 205-pounder on the planet not named Jon Jones.

Just as Henderson was gaining steam, Strikeforce was purchased by the UFC, as Dana White and the Fertitta brothers effectively put a stranglehold on the MMA world by eliminating their competitors.

And just like that, Henderson was back in the UFC for the third time in his illustrious career.

Henderson was scheduled to face Jon Jones in a light heavyweight title tilt at the now-extinct UFC 151.  The Labor Day 2012 card was infamously cancelled after Henderson was injured and the UFC was unable to find a replacement to suit the company’s needs.

After losing his title shot to former teammate Chael Sonnen, (a bout that Sonnen lost against Jones at UFC 159 in April) Henderson was forced to take a step backwards in the line and fight former 205-pound champ Lyoto Machida at UFC 157 in February. Machida used a frustrating combination of elusiveness and well-timed striking to earn a lackluster split-decision victory over Hendo.

On Saturday night at UFC 161, Henderson was once again on the wrong side of the judges’ scorecards, as he fell victim to another former UFC light heavyweight champ, Rashad Evans.

Evans used well-timed aggression and a varied gameplan to keep Henderson off balance, and eventually tired him out en route to a split-decision victory.

For the 42-year-old, retirement talks are always looming. And with back-to-back losses in the Octagon – for the first time in years – those talks carry some validity. Don’t tell that to the former two-time Olympian, however, as Henderson has made plans with his family over the summer, but after that, it’s back to business as usual for the ageless wonder.

“I’ve got a couple trips planned with my kids this summer, so I’d at least like to have a summer this year and then get back in there before the end of the year,” stated the future first ballot Hall-of-Famer.

Putting any retirement talks to bed, Henderson was quick to place the blame on himself, and not his opponent – something he was less inclined to do when he faced the “running” Machida at UFC 157.

“I just left it up to the judges again,” he admitted. “I got nobody to blame but myself.”

What’s next for the MMA legend is still shaky, but a potential move to the middleweight division isn’t out of the question.  After all, Henderson did battle middleweight kingpin Anderson Silva back at UFC 82 in March 2008 for the title, albeit suffering a second-round submission loss.

“I’d consider it,” said Henderson on a potential move to middleweight. “I don’t feel weak or overpowered at 205. I would consider (185). I weighed in at 204 (for this fight) and didn’t miss a meal.”

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  • Milosc

    I see this last fight as having an almost neutral effect on Henderson’s standing’s

    You have to put Evans ahead of him on the top 5, technically, but Dan is right in there with the best of the division. I’d rather see him fight the winner of Jones/Gustafsson, than Nogueira, if you know what I mean

    He’s still two fights from the title, imo, the guy has few peers. Glover is the only interesting fight out of the 5-10 guys, for me

    • Mark McDowall

      I think Hendo’s next fight needs to be against a 5-10 opponent. I think a fight against Bader would be amazing…kind of like fighting a younger version of himself. Plus Bader deserves a good opponent, he was supposed to fight Glover but got injured, and his only losses are against Michida, Jones and Tito…

  • The Best Eva

    Hendo needs to come in and knock someone the hell out in his next fight, his title hopes are slipping.

    • Mark McDowall

      Slipping? I think they slipped and fell down the side Mt. Everest last night. Hendo is still a heck of a fighter…but I don’t think he can hang with the younger guys in the divison. I think a fight against Jones is a horrible idea…not because I don’t think Hendo deserves it, but because Jones will make quicker work of Hendo than he did Sonnen. Honestly I think from the stand point of giving a crap about the health and safety of their fighters, the UFC shouldn’t put that fight together.

      • Milosc

        I had him winning rounds 1 and 2 last night, against the one of the two remaining top contenders

        If one of the judges sneezed last night there’d be no question Henderson deserves to fight J Jones (or at least a rematch with Machida)

      • fsunoles10

        hendo cant hang? he would hang with anybody not name jon jones and he would still have a punchers chance in that fight. hendo has fought 2 of the in my opinion top 5 guys in the division his past 2 fights in fights that could have gone either way. also im a huge sonnen fan but jones would have a lot harder fight with hendo than sonnen.

        • Baller31

          I agree that Jones could not handle Hendo in the same way he did Sonnen…the reason Jones was comfortable in getting close and taking down Sonnen is that Chael has 0 ko power…Hendo, on the other hand, would ko Jones if he connected, which would force Jones to fight more cautiously.

      • Rence

        Coming up short on the judges cards in a close decision against Evans is not what i would call not being able to hang. Had he gone out and just been dominated by someone else i would agree with you, or if Evans had KTFO’d him in short order maybe. But I dont think i can agree with you that last nights fight was indicative of him not being able to hang in the least.

      • julian moran

        Henderson beat Rashad 2 to 1, and has a better chance of beating Jones then just about anyone in the division.

      • The Best Eva

        He’s not that far off he’s a big name, 2 or 3 wins in a row usually puts these guys up there for a title fight.

        He would be much much better than Chael.

  • Chris Kaiser

    What happened to 5 rd main events?

    • Rence

      I was wondering that as well…is it something to do with Canada and a non title fight?

      Also, i guess i wasnt paying attention or something but was this fight the original headlining fight? The only other thing i can think for it being 3 rounds is if it was a replacement fight and one or both of them was originally contracted for a 3round co-main or something.

      • Cereal Killer

        It was a replacement for the midget title fight. They only trained for three rounds.

    • Mario

      The contract they signed was for a 3 round fight. They cant change it just cause its a main event.