Would you believe it if I told you there was a fighter that held championship titles in UFC, Pride, Rings, Strikeforce, and had 12 wins over former UFC/Pride champions? Well, believe it or not that man does exist and his name is Dan Henderson.
Even though Dan is a former UFC Middleweight Tournament Champion, he has failed in his two attempts to win UFC World Championships to Anderson Silva and Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. The UFC World Championship is the only title to elude “Hendo” in his nearly 20 year career. Dan had a chance to correct those imperfections at UFC 151 in 2012 until he was sidelined by injury in a cancelled fight against then Light Heavyweight Champion- Jon Jones. Its taken over 4 years for Hendderson to earn another title shot, this time against an old rival, a rival he defeated by Knockout at UFC 100 in the 2009 knockout of the year, Michael Bisping.
The rivalry between Dan Henderson and Michael Bisping started in 2009, when they coached opposite each other on “The Ultimate Fighter”reality show. After a lot of trash talk their rivalry came to a head at the biggest PPV in UFC history where Hendo picked up the victory. Since then both mens careers went down different paths. Dan left the UFC for Strikeforce where he became 205 champion, defeated all time great heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko and returned to the UFC for a mediocre run that included two wins against Shogun Rua and the first knockout losses of Henderson’s career, three KO losses to be exact.
Bisping continued to be a middleweight gatekeeper for 7 years until a controversial decision win against Anderson Silva gave Bisping the opportunity of a late notice title fight again Luke Rockhold when the former champ- Chris Weidman pulled out. Bisping made the best of this opportunity and won by first round KO. Hendo knocked out former Bellator Champ Hector Lombard around the same time and was looking to retire. But the UFC loved the opportunity this created, to complete a story with Bisping started nearly 8 years ago and a quest for UFC gold that is 19 years in the making.
Dan Henderson has already written a legacy as one of the “pound for pound” greatest MMA fighters that ever lived. He’s the only fighter to concurrently hold World Championships in 2 different weight classes and even though his weight is similar to many welterweights, he’s defeated bigger fighters such as Emelianenko and “Minotauro” Nogueira. Those men are widely considered to be the greatest heavyweights off all time. Dan’s Legacy as one of the best ever is written in stone, However, winning a UFC Championship could arguably make him the Greatest MMA fighter that ever lived.
Size has never mattered much to Dan Henderson. He’s almost always the smaller man in the battle, yet he usually manages to win, regardless. “Sugar” Ray Robinson is often cited as the best pound for pound boxer to ever live, do to his multi-divisional Championships and willingness to fight larger men and still usually win. Does that sound familiar? Dan’s diminutive structure wont be as large as a disadvantage on Saturday night as it has been in the past but Bisping will have height, reach and weight advantages on “Dangerous” Dan. Overcoming these types of advantages are the reason the term “pound for pound” was invented.
At UFC 204, Dan Henderson will once again be in the underdog role like he has so many times in his career. He will be 46 when he enters the cage against Bisping, having the opportunity to become the oldest champion in UFC history. Dan has lost more fights than he has won since his 2011 return to the UFC, and he even took a beating in most of his wins during that time frame. Dan admits that he feels his age but has father time really finished off Dan Henderson or will he once again overcome a seemingly impossible obstacle?
“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it or work around it.” –Michael Jordan
When and if Dan finally steps in the cage with Bisping, the odds will certainly be against him. He would have to face obstacles he’s never faced before. Can Dan figure out a way through that obstacle and finally win the Championship that had long eluded him or would he be another Legendary win added to the quickly growing legacy of “The Count”? Whatever the future holds for Dan Henderson, his status as MMA Legend is there to stay.
By Eric Scott