Dan Henderson scored a big win at Sunday night’s UFC Fight Night 38 card in Natal, Brazil.
Like some hero in an epic story, Henderson rose from the ashes of three consecutive losses, as backed up by two lost rounds in tonight’s fight, to dispatch Mauricio Rua in the third round of this weekend’s clash, and he did it with one might swing of his right hand.
After having rocked and dropped Henderson a couple of times in the first two rounds, Rua was looking to have an easy night with Henderson, but it was not to last. Straying away from what had been a successful strategy of leg kicks and boxing, Rua engaged in a brawl with “Hendo” and paid the ultimate price for his folly. Perhaps even worse, Rua allowed Henderson to recompose himself in the second – when he clearly had his opponent in trouble – by following him to the mat, and engaging in a ground struggle that only benefited “Hendo’s” equilibrium and cardio.
In short, for as dramatic a finish as it was for Henderson he was lucky to get it.
By beating Rua tonight, Henderson has once again demonstrated that he has a heck of a chin and a devastating right hand. However, and beyond that, he only proved that he has the same attack strategy that he’s always had. No more. No less.
In comparison to what is above him in the ranks, and particularly now that he’s off TRT, it’s hard to see how he can compete against the likes of Jon Jones, Alexander Gustafsson, Glover Teixeira, Rashad Evans, Phil Davis, and Daniel Cormier.
Yes, Henderson can take a punch and yes, he can certainly doll one out, but against the fighters listed, further success seems like a pipe dream for the 43 year old fighter.
“Hendo” was easily caught by Rua over the first two rounds and was heavily winded by the middle of the second. That just won’t fly – short of a lucky punch – against the best fighters in the light-heavyweight division.
Henderson’s next fight will tell fans a great deal about his future. However, based off of tonight’s effort and where he sits relative to the rest of the division, “Hendo” would do lucky to draw Antonio Rogerio Nogueira as his next opponent, and then hope that “Little Nog” hands him the keys to victory the way Rua did in Natal, tonight.
All things considered, it was a brilliant finish and certainly a gritty performance, but Henderson was in no way impressive in terms of his dominance or game plan. If anything, “Hendo” was flat out lucky this evening that Rua gave him the fight that he did. In synopsis, he looked more a fighter in decline than one making a title challenge run.