Many felt an all-out, five-round, epic with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 139 and returning to the Octagon as Strikeforce light heavyweight champion would put Hendo on the fast track to a UFC title shot against Jon Jones.
But now, four months later, he’s still in limbo, waiting for his next fight.
Jones was already tied up with a scheduled title defense against Lyoto Machida at UFC 140, which he won. He then had to honor a promised shot to former teammate Rashad Evans. The two will square off in April at UFC 145 in Atlanta.
Henderson, of course, doesn’t want to sit on the sidelines. He’s always been a fighter that excels when he stays busy.
Having long fought at the highest levels in both the light heavyweight and middleweight classes – and even stepping up to heavyweight on occasion – Henderson isn’t overly picky. He’ll take the shot at whoever holds the light heavyweight belt or the middleweight strap, at least according to UFC president Dana White.
“He wants a title fight. He either wants Anderson Silva or whoever has the belt at 185 or the winner of Evans and Jones,” White said at the recent UFC on Fox 3 press conference in New York City. “Last time I talked to Henderson, he wanted to wait to fight one of these guys for the title.”
Henderson held belts in two different weight classes during his Pride tenure, has worn the Strikeforce light heavyweight strap, and even won a UFC tournament in the company’s pre-Zuffa days, but he has yet to capture a modern-day UFC title.
Henderson failed in unifying the Pride 185 and 205-pound belts with then-UFC champions Anderson Silva and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, respectively.
In the twilight years of his storied career, however – he is now 41 years of age – Henderson doesn’t need to face the flavor of the day. In short, he wants a title shot. He wants to add at least one UFC strap to his collection.
“He’ll fight whoever has that belt,” said White, musing on situation. “Dan doesn’t seem too picky, I think he would fight Chael Sonnen (if he won the belt from Silva).”
The likelihood is that he will get a shot at the winner of Jones and Evans. They’re fighting April 21, while Silva isn’t likely to defend his belt until June or July, with Sonnen slated as the opponent.
For now, however, if Henderson wants a title shot, he will have to wait on the sidelines for at least one of those fights to play out.