by Brian Lopez-Benchimol – MMAWeekly.com
One of the living legends of mixed martial arts, Dan Henderson, will do battle once again on July 11 on a UFC 100 fight card that is truly of historic origins, much like “Hendo” himself.
Making a name overseas, the Team Quest co-founder has accomplished things that most fighters could only dream of.
A who’s who of MMA’s finest; Henderson has left no stone unturned when it comes to facing more than worthy opponents including the Nogueira brothers, Murilo Bustamante, Kazuo Misaki, Vitor Belfort and a stunning knockout of than Pride Middleweight Champion Wanderlei Silva, while fighting in Japan. He would make his return to the UFC after nearly 10 years, winning the UFC 17 Middleweight Tournament, eliminating Carlos Newton and Allan Goes to retain the title during his initial stint in the promotion.
Along with his long list of accomplishments and accolades in wrestling, which included stints on the ’92 and ’96 Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling teams, what he is most recognized for is for holding two titles in two different weight classes simultaneously for the now defunct Pride Fighting Championships, a feat that has since been unattainable in a promotion of that stature.
He was unsuccessful in his first two outings back with the big show, both title unification bouts to declare the absolute champion in each weight class, unifying the Pride and UFC’s middleweight and light heavyweight titles against Anderson Silva and Quinton Jackson (respectively).
“Hendo” has since rebounded with two consecutive wins, against submission whiz Rousimar Palhares and former middleweight champ Rich Franklin, a win that guaranteed his spot not only as the U.S. coach of Season 9 of The Ultimate Fighter, but a chance to face off against the face of the U.K. MMA scene, Michael Bisping.
Steadfast, with just under a week remaining till the fight, Henderson is ready to go.
“Trainings been going good, body feels good, so right on track to kick some ass,” he told MMAWeekly Radio.
Bisping, being notorious for his outspokenness and antics, it would lead some to believe that the former Pride Champion may have been phased by the ruckus… but not in the slightest.
“No I don’t believe he got under my skin at all. I’m pretty hard to get riled up. It doesn’t really bother me; it doesn’t matter what he says. It’s just a matter of what he can and can’t do out there in the fight and I know what I’m going to be doing to him.”
In his last fight, “The Count” fought former Team Quest affiliate Chris Leben, headlining UFC 89 in Birmingham, England. Displaying a safe approach to the fight, staying outside of “The Crippler’s” range to land his signature left hook, Bisping was able to implement a stick and move tactic and it is that same gameplan that Henderson believes he will employ in their upcoming fight, just with a different intended result.
“I’m sure he’s going to fight me similar to how he fought Leben, just kind of outpoint me and move around more and I’m going to have to do the opposite. I’m going have to outpoint him and beat him up.”
Though obviously a talented fighter, Bisping may be more infamously known for his fight against fellow Ultimate Fighter competitor of the same season Matt Hamill. A fight billed as the true Ultimate Fighter bout saw Bisping earn a highly disputed split decision over Hamill. Henderson certainly doesn’t want to suffer the same fate.
“It gives me a little more motivation to finish the fight and not let any judge’s screw anything up this time. Then again, I try to finish every fight,” said the California native.
With the days, hours and minutes winding down, Henderson has everything to gain from this fight. Another win would move him a step closer to another shot against Anderson Silva, a fight where Henderson would like to redeem himself from his previous performance. Of course a win over the brash and talented U.K. star wouldn’t be so bad either.
Now after all the talk, the time has come for Henderson to silence his critics and his opponent.
“I think it’s the power on my feet combined with my wrestling, it’s going to keep him guessing where I’m going to attack next, and he’s just never fought anybody like me,” he assessed, before adding, “I don’t think that’s going to be 100 percent possible no matter how badly I beat him up. It won’t shut him up completely, but I will do my best to at least shut him up for a few days.”