Just last week, UFC President Dana White announced that the winner of the light-heavyweight bout between Dan Henderson and Daniel Cormier at UFC 175 would be next (technically third, after Glover Teixeira and Alexander Gustafsson get their promised cracks) in line for a title fight.
While Henderson wants nothing short of a piece of UFC gold to call his own, he doesn’t deserve the opportunity, at this point.
Henderson suffered two split-decision, albeit obvious, losses to Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans before having his lights turned out by Vitor Belfort at UFC Fight Night: 32 in November. Two-thousand-thirteen was a bad year for the former Pride champion, to say the least.
In fact, before his most recent victory against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Henderson hadn’t seen his hand raised since 2011 – when he fought Shogun the first time en route to a unanimous, yet controversial, decision.
The once-dynamic wrestler with one of the heaviest right hands and the best china the sport’s ever seen is no longer. All fans ever get to see is a shell of the great fighter that once was – one who now unabashedly cocks his right hand back and waits for his opportunity to unload.
Chances are, unless your name Mauricio Rua, you’re probably crafty enough to avoid the old “H-Bomb” for 15 minutes and wait for the 43-year-old Henderson to just gas himself out.
Keep your chin tucked and circle right has become the algorithm to defeating the future UFC Hall of Fame fighter.
This isn’t meant to disparage what Henderson’s accomplished throughout his fighting career – he’s truly one of the best to ever do it. But being one of the best fighters 10 years ago shouldn’t catapult him into title contention after – assuming he defeats Cormier and “earning” his shot – going 2-3 in his last five fights.
This is just the latest stop in the never-ending list of the UFC’s undeserving title contenders, though.
There was Nick Diaz who was granted a title shot against former welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre after losing his previous fight to Carlos Condit and retiring from the sport.
There was Chael Sonnen who was given a title shot against UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones because of his promotional abilities as a fighter. This happened after suffering a TKO loss to then-middleweight champion Anderson Silva in his previous fight.
There was Frankie Edgar, who suffered two-straight decision losses to former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson before dropping down to 145 and signing his name to the “superfight” between he and Jose Aldo.
There was Kenny Florian, who struggled against the stronger fighters in the lightweight division and ultimately shed an extra 10 pounds to try his luck against the featherweight-kingpin. Florian only defeated one fighter – Diego Nunes – as a featherweight before “earning” his shot at Aldo and the belt.
It happens more often than a professional fighting promotion should allow. Ratings are what they are, but a promotion that ranks its fighters should probably abide by said rankings.