The 43 year old, former Olympian, former Pride Welterweight and Middleweight champion, and former Strikeforce Middleweight champion, Dan Henderson proved that he still has what it takes to compete in this sport at his age tonight on UFC Fight Night 38 in Natal, Brazil. Sporting one of, if not the best chin in MMA, Dan Henderson overcame being dropped not once, but twice in his rematch against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, and eventually walked out as the victor courtesy of a 3rd round right hand to the Brazilian.
Post-fight in the cage with Jon Anik, Henderson showing his toughness and a chin of granite, commented on being dropped in the first round with a nonchalant response:
“He rung my bell just a tad in the first round,” Henderson said.
Later Henderson reiterating again at the post-fight press conference that he was not too affected by Shogun’s punches which included a left hook in the first, followed by an uppercut in the 2nd–both resulting in knockdowns of Dan Henderson.
“It didn’t feel good I guess to have to recover like that. But I don’t think I was hurt real bad in the first. He definitely run my bell a little bit, the second round he hurt me a little more. I decided just to kind of regroup and pull guard and hold on for a little white and recover. And make sure going into the 3rd round I needed to get my butt moving and go after him a little bit more and be more aggressive. I think I just started out a little too slow and tried to pace the fight a little too much.”
“I knew my back was against the wall. I probably lost the first two rounds, so I needed to make sure I won rounds 3-4-5. So I was going to be more aggressive and luckily I caught him with a good right hand and then finished him up,” Henderson said, “I know Shogun is a tough guy and hits hard as well.”
Much talk was about whether or not the rematch would live up to it’s original, which many called the greatest fight in UFC history and one of the greatest fights in MMA history. Henderson certainly thought the 2nd fight did the first one justice.
“I was worried that this 2nd fight, the rematch wouldn’t live up to everybody’s expectations but I think it came close to the talk of the first fight. I think that just the two of our styles kind of always moving forward and always trying to finish fights. So thank you to Shogun.”
There was plenty of talk going into this fight about the future of Henderson’s career, riding a 3-fight losing streak at 43 years old, he had just signed a new 6-fight contract with the UFC. However with the recent TRT ban, it made Henderson–a long-time TRT user–reconsider things prior to the fight. This much needed victory snapped Henderson’s losing streak and earned his first victory since 2011–which ironically was over the same opponent, Mauricio Rua. But Henderson at his current state still enjoys fighting and say he’s still fully invested in the sport mentally.
“I think at 43 years old, I’m fortunate enough to go out there and have fun doing what I just did,” I had fun out there. He caught me with a couple nice punches, but I still enjoyed the whole fight. And happy I came out on top. My spirit is still there, I’m in there training–training is probably the toughest part at my age. Knowing when to back off because my body needs to recover a little better, that’s been the adjustment with the age. I feel good and mentally I’m still there. I feel like the same style I had. I feel good, I’m just fortunate enough and thank god that it worked out tonight.”