Dan Henderson has been competing in mixed martial arts for nearly two decades, but Saturday night’s five-round battle with Michael Bisping at UFC 204 was the last time that we will see him fighting live in the Octagon.
“Yeah – I guess fortunate for you guys (the Bisping fans in Manchester) – last time that anyone will see me fight live,” Henderson said in the Octagon after Bisping was awarded a unanimous decision.
“I appreciate all the support throughout the years worldwide. I gave my heart and soul to this sport and fans like you, even though you booed me at the beginning of the night, made it worthwhile,” he added as the fans began chanting, “Hendo! Hendo! Hendo!”
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Having twice represented the United States in Olympic wrestling before turning to MMA, Henderson has never fought at the lower levels of the sport. He won the UFC 17 middleweight tournament in just the third and fourth fights of his career. To do so, he defeated Carlos Newton and Allan Goes, both in a single night. Newton eventually went on to become the UFC welterweight champion.
Having also won the prestigious 32-man Rings King of Kings Tournament, held Pride FC championships in two different weight classes simultaneously, and won the Strikeforce light heavyweight title, Henderson is not short on accolades or experience.
The 46-year-old Californian, who finishes his career with a 32-15 record, never managed to capture a UFC divisional championship, but came close on Saturday night, putting Bisping on his backside twice in the early rounds. Henderson dropped the H-Bomb late in rounds one and two, busting up Bisping’s left eye badly.
The Brit showed his championship mettle, weathering the storm and avenging a brutal knockout loss to Henderson from seven years ago at UFC 100, although Henderson thought the judges got it wrong on the scorecards.
It wasn’t quite the storybook ending that Hendo wanted, but he was appreciative to close out his career by going for the gold.
“I want to thank the fans and thank Michael Bisping for giving me this opportunity to fight for the belt in my last fight.”
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