This Saturday night (June 6, 2015) mixed martial arts (MMA) legend Dan Henderson could be fighting for his UFC job when he steps into the Octagon to battle Tim Boetsch in the main event of UFC Fight Night 68 from The Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana.
With five losses in his last six bouts, the 44-year-old ‘Hendo’ is clearly seeing the effects of time on his body, and it’s no surprise. Henderson has fought on long after most once-revered fighters have hung up their gloves, and whether or not you agree with the path he’s taken, there’s not much doubt that ‘Hendo’ has the heart of a true warrior.
There was once a time when Henderson was amongst the most feared fighters in the sport, possessing a thunderous right hand and Olympic-level wrestling that he rarely, if ever, had to use inside the cage or ring due to his jaw-dropping knockout power. His long list of illustrious, exciting bouts contains some classics. Here are the five best. Here is the list:
- 1 Unanimous Decision Win Over Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua At UFC 139
- 2 Second Round Knockout Of Michael Bisping At UFC 100
- 3 First Round TKO Over Fedor Emelianenko At Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson
- 4 Third Round KO Over Wanderlei Silva At Pride 33
- 5 Split Decision Win Over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira At Rings: King Of Kings 1999 Semifinal
Unanimous Decision Win Over Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua At UFC 139
There’s no other ‘Hendo’ fight that could top this list other than his legendary knockdown, drag-out slugfest with fellow Pride rival Shogun. ‘Hendo’ rocked the Brazilian bulldozer with his patented low kick-overhand right combo in the early going, battering him to the point of a near stoppage. But Shogun battled back in the later rounds, taking down and mounting a tired Henderson to mount a near comeback. In the end, Henderson took home a close unanimous decision to earn a title shot at Jon Jones that never happened in a bout that is constantly discussed as the greatest UFC fight of all-time.
Second Round Knockout Of Michael Bisping At UFC 100
This was a fight of an entirely different sort compared to his war with Shogun, as Henderson came into this fight against Bisping on the UFC’s biggest-ever pay-per-view (PPV) with a ton of bad blood and backstory thanks their time spent as opposing coaches on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF). ‘The Count’ had played the perfect heel by talking a big game on the show, but it was ‘Hendo’ who would have the last laugh. Flooring Bisping with a picture-perfect punch that instantly stiffened ‘The Count,’ Henderson further etched his name into the annals of MMA history with quite possibly the finest one-punch knockout the Octagon has ever seen.
First Round TKO Over Fedor Emelianenko At Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson
Here’s another legendary bout that featured Henderson improbably toppling another revered heavyweight. In another fast and furious fight, it was Fedor who actually rocked Henderson with an early flurry, following to swarm with ground shots to look for the first round finish. But ‘Hendo’ used a textbook wrestling reversal, sneaking out the back door to nail ‘The Last Emperor’ with an uppercut under the armpit that knocked him out for just long enough to cause Herb Dean to stop the action. Classic stuff.
Third Round KO Over Wanderlei Silva At Pride 33
This bout during the latter days of Pride’s illustrious run gained Henderson revenge for his earlier loss to ‘The Axe Murderer’ way back at Pride 12. Henderson made Pride history, knocking out Wand with his famous ‘H-Bomb’ in the second to add the Pride middleweight championship to add to his welterweight belt, ending Pride’s run on top as a decorated two-division champion.
Split Decision Win Over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira At Rings: King Of Kings 1999 Semifinal
This bout, which goes way back to the Rings King of Kings 1999 semifinals, is significant in that Henderson beat one of the greatest heavyweights of all-time to advance to the finals. ‘Big Nog’ would later go on to rule the biggest division in Pride, and we all know what Henderson went on to accomplish. This is a classic bout that set the tone for both fighters’ illustrious career, and it paved a clear path for Henderson to add the Rings King of Kings title to his list of accomplishments by defeating another legend of MMA.