‘Heart and mind overcome all’
In Manchester, England, one of MMA’s greatest sons–Dan Henderson–will look to cement another accolade to his hall-of-fame worthy career. At 46-years-old, it is do-or-die time in attaining the UFC world title that has evaded him in his career. This is being billed as his final fight. And in it, Henderson will rematch the man that was the victim of his UFC 100, career defining, highlight knockout.
His opponent is an unlikely 185 pound champion. For years, Michael Bisping was a perennial contender who could not get over the championship hump. His story is one of romanticism–the unlikely champion putting it all together at an twiligh of his career.
Dan Henderson’s career resume reads like a who’s-who list of MMA legends
Yet this time, everything is stacked in the Brit’s favor. He is the more mobile striker, and can push an overwhelming pace to win the fight. He is also fighting in front of his hometown fans. In his career, the Englishman is undefeated when fighting on his native soil. This was rubber stamped when he grabbed a decision win over long-time division kingpin Anderson Silva, earlier this year.
The one kicker in all of this is Henderson. He has made out of proving people wrong.
Dan Henderson’s career resume reads like a who’s-who list of MMA legends. He has wins in multiple weight classes, and its given him legendary status. One could argue that his ability to fight in multiple weight-classes has stifled his involvement in the discussion as the greatest fighter of all-time. Unlike the often mentioned Fedor Emelianenko, Georges St-Pierre and Silva, Henderson was never able to get on a consecutive run of title defenses when he held his world titles in Pride. Ultimately, he has never been ranked as the top fighter in his weight-class despite holding severalworld titles.
Not too long ago, both men’s careers seemed on downward trajectories.
This will be his third crack at a UFC championship. The first two attempts came when in bouts to unify his Pride titles with their UFC equivalent. The first of those unification fights actually came in the United Kingdom, when he met the then UFC light-heavyweight champion, Quinton Jackson. He would come up short in London. This would be compounded six months later with a submission loss to Silva in the UFC middleweight unification fight. The highlight of his UFC career is that win over Bisping. Hell, Henderson made a whole truckload of merchandise featuring the silhouette of his infamous follow-up strike on the unconscious Bisping.
Not too long ago, both men’s careers seemed on downward trajectories. At the end of 2014, many corners of the MMA media were suggesting that Bisping’s career was winding down. For Henderson, he went in to UFC 199 looking to likely fight out the final fight on his contract, and of his career. However, that night in June would be huge for both men. Bisping would win the UFC world title as a massive underdog (and short-notice injury replacement) against Luke Rockhold, and Henderson would roll back the years by demolishing Hector Lombard.
It was vintage Henderson, surviving an early scare to finish the fight in devastating fashion. It was almost the perfect way to end his career.
At UFC 205, we will likely see Henderson in the cage for the final time. The tournaments, the opponents, and the world titles will all be forgotten when that cage door shuts in this weekend’s main event. 19 years of blood, sweat and tears will come down to this this one moment.
The odds may be against Dan Henderson, but for one final time, he is ready to go all-in.