Dan Henderson’s Homerun Win Over Shogun May Be Hiding His Inevitable Decline

Dan Henderson’s Homerun Win Over Shogun May Be Hiding His Inevitable Decline


Dan Henderson scored a big win at Sunday night’s UFC Fight Night 38 card in Natal, Brazil.

Like some hero in an epic story, Henderson rose from the ashes of three consecutive losses, as backed up by two lost rounds in tonight’s fight, to dispatch Mauricio Rua in the third round of this weekend’s clash, and he did it with one might swing of his right hand.

After having rocked and dropped Henderson a couple of times in the first two rounds, Rua was looking to have an easy night with Henderson, but it was not to last. Straying away from what had been a successful strategy of leg kicks and boxing, Rua engaged in a brawl with “Hendo” and paid the ultimate price for his folly. Perhaps even worse, Rua allowed Henderson to recompose himself in the second – when he clearly had his opponent in trouble – by following him to the mat, and engaging in a ground struggle that only benefited “Hendo’s” equilibrium and cardio.

In short, for as dramatic a finish as it was for Henderson he was lucky to get it.

By beating Rua tonight, Henderson has once again demonstrated that he has a heck of a chin and a devastating right hand. However, and beyond that, he only proved that he has the same attack strategy that he’s always had. No more. No less.

In comparison to what is above him in the ranks, and particularly now that he’s off TRT, it’s hard to see how he can compete against the likes of Jon Jones, Alexander Gustafsson, Glover Teixeira, Rashad Evans, Phil Davis, and Daniel Cormier.

Yes, Henderson can take a punch and yes, he can certainly doll one out, but against the fighters listed, further success seems like a pipe dream for the 43 year old fighter.

“Hendo” was easily caught by Rua over the first two rounds and was heavily winded by the middle of the second. That just won’t fly – short of a lucky punch – against the best fighters in the light-heavyweight division.

Henderson’s next fight will tell fans a great deal about his future. However, based off of tonight’s effort and where he sits relative to the rest of the division, “Hendo” would do lucky to draw Antonio Rogerio Nogueira as his next opponent, and then hope that “Little Nog” hands him the keys to victory the way Rua did in Natal, tonight.

All things considered, it was a brilliant finish and certainly a gritty performance, but Henderson was in no way impressive in terms of his dominance or game plan. If anything, “Hendo” was flat out lucky this evening that Rua gave him the fight that he did. In synopsis, he looked more a fighter in decline than one making a title challenge run.

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  • http://lowkickmma.com/author/Entity Entity

    Shogun's poor nose.

    • http://lowkickmma.com/author/BrianCox Brian Cox

      That was brutal, man. Seriously, for a moment I thought Henderson had killed him. The sound of that punch, wow!

    • http://lowkickmma.com/author/enjoylife321 enjoylife321

      I actually like the way his new nose looks entity….give it time, I think you will like it also.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/author/apocalypse123 apocalypse123

    Come on he just knocked out Shogun and you're only as good as your last fight. He did have his decline and he proved that age doesn't stop his right hand. It may not take him far but give him some credit at least.

    • http://lowkickmma.com/author/BrianCox Brian Cox

      AP, I give Hendo all the credit in the world. He's a tough SOB, man. Few fighters would have survived Rua tonight. However, Hendo's chin kept him in the fight and then Rua's lack of Octagon IQ did the rest.

      Rua put Hendo back in the fight in the second round when he went to the ground with him. If Shogun had just gotten up and forced Henderson to stand again, he might have finished him. And why Rua stopped kicking Hendos' lead leg was beyond me.

      It was a awesome finish to be sure, but I think he got lucky. Rua handed him one, IMO.

      • http://lowkickmma.com/author/TheXperience TheXperience

        I have to disagree… before that last brutal hook, Hendo rocked Rua several times. Hendo clearly also still has his speed. I think it's exactly like he said in the post fight interview. He started the fight to patient… trying to catch Rua coming in, while that is the worst gameplan against Shogun. You need to go after guys like Shogun. Back him up and put him away… If Dan started the fight more offensive it probably would've ended sooner and he would've taken less damage. Also, Shogun was open for Uppercuts ALL DAY.. I was standing on my couch screaming, "THROW A FUCKING RIGHT UPPERCUT"… Lol… he would've landed it time after time. Shogun left a wide open target there….

        I do think he needs another camp and reinvent himself a bit. He still has the athletic ability and strength to compete at the highest level.

        • http://lowkickmma.com/author/BrianCox Brian Cox

          All of that is true XP, but the issue is not really beating Rua – who, let's face it, has been less than average (6 -7) since coming into the UFC – but rather beating the guys above him.

          Truly, I thought Rua let Henderson off the hook last night.

          • http://lowkickmma.com/author/TheXperience TheXperience

            I agree.. that it's gonna be hard beating the guys above him. However i don't think his personal "decline" is the reason. It's more the evolution of the sport. Hendo is not evolving enough cause he's not willing to throw himself into deep waters and switch camps to add to his game. Sure "his" game has worked very well for him throughout his career but the new breed is just smarter and more well rounded. I think Hendo can still compete with the best if he starts showcasing a more well rounded game. He has the physical ability to do so, he just needs to be in another environment, around new people and step away from the "Yes men"… cause i think he has too much of those around him. If he didn't, he would show up much better prepared for war and with more tools than just that 1 big dynamite stick.

        • http://lowkickmma.com/author/BrianCox Brian Cox

          PS – I'm the funny. I laughed at the couch remark. I do the same thing. :-)

          • http://lowkickmma.com/author/TheXperience TheXperience

            Lol… that's when you know you're a true MMA fan! :-)

  • http://lowkickmma.com/author/grandslam grandslam

    Dan's Chin is very durable but I have to say his defense is extremely poor. What is worse is his dependence on his right hand. Like come on!
    Shogun, on the other hand, was fighting well but I couldn't understand why did he allow Hendo to recover in the second? This fight was a one way traffic until the final seconds before the KO.

    I am not doubting Hendo's power in any way. The guy is a powerhouse, but this was a very lucky win indeed.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/author/enjoylife321 enjoylife321

    Dan Henderson won the fight against a top level athlete…Say no more

    • http://lowkickmma.com/author/grandslam grandslam

      Nope. not a top level athlete.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/author/DG1 DG1

    And Rua for dummy and days ha!

  • http://lowkickmma.com/author/IChokePeople IChokePeople

    While I agree that Hendo is on the decline and that this fight highlighted that, I disagree with how you get there and I strongly disagree with your statement that Hendo got "lucky". Here is how I see it. Hendo's Chin hasn't been the same since the Fedor fight. It was the first fight where his chin seemed at all vulnerable and he has seemed much more susceptible to getting rocked ever since. Combine that with his age and the fact that he just suffered his first KO in his previous fight and the writing is on the wall. He got rocked a few times last night and he easily could have been stopped if Rua had pressed him harder. In that sense he was a little lucky BUT every fight involves some measure of luck and I would not call this fight a lucky win for Hendo based on that alone. If you are arguing (as you seem to be) that it was a lucky punch that ended the fight then I call BS. Hendo's style is built around landing a well timed right hand to end the fight. He landed a well timed and nearly perfectly executed right hand and ended the fight. That isn't luck, that is training to do something and doing it. All of that aside I do arrive at the same conclusion as you do. Hendo, especially minus TRT, is too far over the hill to compete at the top. Further, with the specific factor of his declining chin taken account of, I predict that he is entering the KO'd every other fight period of his career.

    • http://lowkickmma.com/author/BrianCox Brian Cox

      ICP – I am not saying Hendo's punch was lucky. It was not. It was a thing of absolute beauty and well earned. That could well be KO of the year. It was classic Henderson and to be honest, I could see it coming.

      When Rua started banging and exchanging with Hendo it the third, rather than the sweeter strategy he employed in the first and second, which was hard leg kicks and keeping at range, he really began to roll the dice. That's freaking Hendo's game. And his chin allows him to play it.

      Hendo was lucky not by way of the punch, but by way of Rua's Octagon IQ. He left a strategy that was working for a ground fight and a brawl. To me, that's where Hendo got lucky. But not with the punch. That was not luck.

      Great fight!

  • http://lowkickmma.com/author/watermelonfresh watermelon fresh

    No way SHougun should have lost that fight. He was being careless and he gets hit way too much for his skill level. So much for using leg kicks and fighting at a more methodical pace.

    • http://lowkickmma.com/author/BrianCox Brian Cox

      Yeah, what happened with the leg kicks? He was owning Hendo on that, and he just stopped doing it. It made no sense. And why did he hang out on the mat with Hendo in the second? That helped Henderson a lot, IMO. It gave him a much needed rest.