UFC 17 Middleweight Tournament Champion, check. 1999 Rings of Kings 1999 Tournament Champion, check. Pride Welterweight Champion, check. Pride Middleweight Champion, check. Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion, check. These are just Dan Henderson’s professional accomplishments, we would be here for days talking about his amateur background and how successful he was during that time of his career. There aren’t many mixed martial artists who can boast a similar list of accomplishments or who have beaten the caliber of opponents that Henderson has.
Now that the Rashad Evans-Jon Jones fight is over and done with we can now move on from the soap opera that was to Jones’ next opponent. UFC President Dana White announced during the UFC 145 post fight press conference that Henderson would be the next man to challenge Jones for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. By the time the fight takes place Henderson will be close to or will have just turned 42-years-old and from the looks of things he seems to be like a fine wine, he is getting better with age.
With Jones coming out victorious via unanimous decision Henderson will now face Jones within the next few months, possibly at UFC 149 in July which will be held at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Jones has defeated four former UFC champions in a row and has done so with relative ease. Henderson is certainly the most experienced fighter that Jones will face, but at 5’11 he will be giving up almost a half foot in height and the reach advantage will once again weigh heavily in Jones favor making it difficult for Henderson to get inside and land his trademark H-Bomb.
“I feel like I match better against Jones and to be honest it’ll probably be a more entertaining fight than if I had faced Rashad,” Henderson admitted in an interview with Fightlinker. “Evans would’ve looked to put me on my back and try to win the fight on the ground whereas Jones would be more apt to keep the fight standing. It’s a totally different game plan for both guys, but it didn’t matter to me who I fought. I think the fans are happy that I will be facing Jones instead of Evans.”
The rest after the jump!
Before White announced that Frank Mir would be replacing Alistair Overeem against UFC Heavyweight Champion Junior Dos Santos at UFC 146 there was some speculation that Henderson could possibly fill that role. It wouldn’t be the first time that Henderson would have faced a heavyweight. Last July Henderson took on Fedor Emelianenko and knocked the Russian out late in the first round. Before that Henderson had faced Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira twice while fighting in Rings and Pride. He won the first bout, but lost the rematch. Being that Dos Santos isn’t a huge heavyweight that’s a fight that would’ve been very interesting.
“I would definitely have considered it,” Henderson revealed. “I don’t think that it’ll ever materialize, especially because I’m a lighter guy. I normally walk around at 204lbs.; I don’t have to cut any weight to make the light heavyweight limit. When I fought Fedor I weighed in at 206.6 and that was only because I had to weigh in over 206lbs. Dos Santos certainly hits hard and it would be a fun fight that’s for sure.”
With a list of accomplishments a mile long both in the amateur and professional ranks, Henderson is certainly a lock for the UFC Hall of Fame, but with his recent performances being as strong as they are he is no rush to retire. Henderson has stated many times that the one thing that has eluded him in his career has been a UFC championship and he is hungry to wear that title around his waist.
“I see myself fighting another couple years at least,” a young at heart Henderson stated. “Right now I am taking it year by year, not necessarily fight by fight. I do feel as though I have a few good years left in me and I love to compete. I am training a lot smarter than I used to, I don’t beat my body up as bad as I used to. I make sure my conditioning is a priority, I had a really good last year, but there’s nothing I can really contribute my success to. Things are better in my life, I made some personal changes and things have just fallen into place.”
Henderson is just one of many top mixed martial artists who will be attending The MMA Live Show this May in Birmingham, England. The two day event will be held at the NEC Arena on May 12th & 13th and promises to be one of the biggest and best expos that the sport has ever seen. Henderson is anxious to go over and spend time with the UK fans and interact with the other fighters attending the show.
“I will be doing some seminars while I am over there,” an excited Henderson said. “I also know I will be doing some Q & A sessions with the fans. It should be a lot of fun and I’m really looking forward to going over there. The sport is starting to build up some popularity over there and the fans are becoming a lot more educated. The British fans are great and have always been good to me. I’ve had quite a few British fans thank me for knocking out Bisping which was nice to hear.”