Legendary UFC Light Heavyweight Dan Henderson is no stranger to big fights with very high stakes on the line. He’s fought for the belt in multiple weight classes in Pride, and also won a UFC Tournament title. However, one thing he’s not familiar with is pulling out of fights, which is exactly what he had to do with a partially torn MCL last September.
That well-documented fiasco lead to the cancellation of his long-awaited title bout versus Jon Jones, and ultimately UFC 151 altogether. Hendo is back and ready to face off against another high-profile opponent in Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida at UFC 157. Speaking to Bleacher Report, he knows that there are no easy fights at the top, and refuses to look past Machida:
“Just like any fight nowadays, there’s a lot on the line and Lyoto’s going to be a huge challenge and I’m not looking past this fight. I just want to make sure my game plan is there and that my mind is in this fight and we’ll see what happens after that.”
Some smart words from a very experienced fighter. The February 23rd bout reportedly carries a potential number one contender’s spot for the victor, and that is paramount to Hendo’s goal.
A UFC title belt is the only piece of hardware missing from Henderson’s illustrious collection, and at 42 years old, he may be running out of time. Henderson will need to be healthy in order to beat The Dragon, something that was lacking leading up to his cancelled bout with Jones:
“The knee was very unstable. I didn’t need surgery, but I probably prolonged it a little by trying to go in and train on it, which may or may not have made the healing process a little slower. I know that it’s good now and I can go 100 percent.”
So it’s business as usual for Dan Henderson, who seems to be maintaining his trademark cool demeanor as he prepares for one of the biggest bouts of his storied career. He may be the underdog against Machida, but if history serves us correctly, Dan Henderson is only one punch away from contending for the only major title in MMA to elude him.