Former Pride and Strikeforce multi-class champion Dan Henderson has seen far better days in his illustrious 18-year mixed martial arts (MMA) career as he’s suffered five losses in his last six UFC bouts, prompting many to call for his retirement.
Heading into his middleweight bout with Tim Boetsch in the main event of tonight’s (Sat., June 6, 2015) UFC Fight Night 68 from New Orleans, Louisiana, ‘Hendo’ definitely needs a win to stay employed with the world’s foremost MMA promotion. But there was a time not all that long ago when Henderson ruled over most of the 205-pound roost with an iron fist, knocking out high-level opposition on the way to a four-fight win streak capped off by his classic five-round war of attrition with Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua at late 2011’s UFC 139.
The decision win earned him a title shot at young and dominant champion Jon Jones, a fight that never happened when Henderson devastatingly hurt his knee in training. He came back and lost an uneventful split decision to Lyoto Machida at UFC 157, but he’s clearly never been the same since the over yearlong absence.
That only got worse when Henderson’s once-valued testosterone-replacement therapy (TRT) was banned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission in early 2014.
With seemingly endless busts for performance-enhancing drug (PEDs) in the UFC, it was clear that it was time for an overhaul of the drug-testing program, and they created an unforgiving one that was unveiled earlier this week. Henderson opened up on the topic to MMA Junkie, proclaiming that he doesn’t necessarily agree with how they axed TRT, but that he does agree with their implementation of a new program:
“I’ve been asking for that for a few years. They just up and got rid of TRT instead, but some people actually need it. It’s unfortunate that that’s the way it went, but I am happy that they’re cracking down now. It’s definitely taken them long enough, but I’m happy with where they’re at.”
‘Hendo’ elaborated on his feelings for the new testing protocol even further, noting that if they would have just employed random testing in the first place, they wouldn’t have had to suffer through the scandals of the past few years:
“It’s unfortunate that it came down to this,” Henderson said. “They should have just started doing the no-advance-notice drug testing randomly, and that would have cured all the problems. TRT being legal or not, the no-advance-notice testing would make sure no one’s abusing anything.”
As an elder statesman of the fight game, Henderson has seen it all in MMA from the steroid-enhanced Pride FC days in Japan, to the TRT era where injecting synthetic hormones was legal with a doctor’s note, to today, when the UFC has not other choice but to clamp down on any and all PED use for the sake of the sport’s future image.
The decorated legend believes they are finally doing the right thing. Do you?