While Dan Henderson’s days as a legitimate UFC title contender would appear to be over, there’s no doubt the 45-year-old veteran still commands plenty of respect for the stellar career he’s carved out. The talented former Olympic wrestler relies on his thunderous punching power and remarkable toughness. His meat-and-potatoes approach has been a lengthy recipe for success. Henderson showed in his recent 28 second destruction of Tim Boetsch at Fight Night 68 in New Orleans that he still packs a major punch. However, on the down side, he’s just 2-5 in his last seven Octagon appearances and has been finished in three of those setbacks.
There’s no trash talking when it comes to the PRIDE, Strikeforce and UFC veteran as he lets his fists do the talking and abides by a respectful may the best man win approach. More often than not that strategy has seen the Team Quest stalwart emerge triumphant. As he prepares for his 45th career contest against Vitor Belfort at Fight Night 77 in Brazil, we take a look back on Henderson’s top five career performances.
5. Dan Henderson vs. Wanderlei Silva II (PRIDE 33)
Henderson had suffered a decision loss to the hard-hitting Brazilian in their initial matchup at PRIDE 12, but he would make an emphatic statement in their return engagement seven years later at PRIDE 33. While Henderson is noted for his spectacular “H-Bomb” of a right hand, it was actually a well-placed left hook that would separate Silva from his senses during their middleweight title fight in Las Vegas. The end would come in violent fashion in the third-round as Henderson became the first man to hold two PRIDE belts at the same time. He was also that organization’s welterweight champion.
4. Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua II (UFC Fight Night 38)
Their initial contest in San Jose remains one of the all-time great Octagon battles, and Henderson and Rua managed to produce another thriller in their rematch at UFC Fight Night 38. After surviving a rocky couple of rounds, Henderson was able to stun a raucous Brazilian crowd by putting “Shogun” away in the third. He would land a right hand that would rearrange Rua’s nose and finish with a flurry of follow-up strikes. The victory earned Henderson both Fight and Performance of the Night bonuses.
3. Dan Henderson vs. Fedor Emelianenko (Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson)
The great thing about Henderson has been his willingness to move between divisions and enjoy success. He has competed in multiple weight classes during a decorated professional career that began back in 1997. One of his most significant stoppages was a first-round finish of “The Last Emperor” during a Strikeforce bout in 2011. It was a highly-anticipated matchup between the two former PRIDE greats.
Both men came out swinging from the start as it ended up being a true firefight. Henderson went to the canvas after a series of punches from Emelianenko, but adeptly scrambled and would land a massive uppercut to his opponent’s jaw. Henderson would seize the advantage and rain punches down on Emelianenko until the contest was halted at the 4:12 mark. It was another performance that added to Henderson’s already legendary status.
2. Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua I (UFC 139)
Both men gave all in what proved to be an epic light heavyweight showdown at UFC 139. Henderson and Rua went through a gruelling and bloody battle in which both men had significant moments. “Hendo” had the Brazilian bloodied and battered in the first half of the contest, but was the one taking punishment at the end of the sensational 25-minute war. When the dust had settled the judges awarded Henderson a unanimous decision victory in one of the greatest UFC fights of all-time. It could be argued that neither man has ever been the same since that remarkable night in San Jose.
1. Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping (UFC 100)
Not only was Henderson involved in one of the greatest fights of all-time, he also has registered one of the most legendary knockouts in UFC history. His savage finish of Michael Bisping at UFC 100 was one of the most violent stoppages that you will ever witness.
Henderson had a lot of pent up frustration in dealing with Bisping’s cocky personality during The Ultimate Fighter 9 and the two coaches would collide at what arguably remains the biggest event in the promotion’s history. Henderson would obliterate “The Count” in Las Vegas when he landed a picture-perfect right hand in the second round. After sending his opponent to the canvas, Henderson would mix in one more unnecessary follow-up punch just for good measure. It was a sign of the genuine disdain that he had for Bisping. While there has been some discussion about a possible rematch in recent years, Henderson has shrugged it off saying he couldn’t possibly duplicate what he accomplished in their first meeting. It’s tough to argue that point.