Dan Henderson speaks to the media during the UFC 139 press conference on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011 at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco, Calif. Photo Credit: Esther Lin, MMA Fighting
While all of the attention has been focused on Jon Jones in the last few days, the now 42-year-old Dan Henderson has had some questions of his own that needed to be addressed. One of those questions was whether or not Chael Sonnen knew of Henderson's injury the entire time, hence his recent and sudden trash-talking with Jones through social media. Jones' coach Mike Winkeljohn implied that Sonnen knew full-well Henderson was hurt and had been secretly training to prepare for the champion. Henderson went on The MMA Hour today to deny those claims.
"Chael didn’t know anything about it," he said. "He had definitely not been training at all. My guys told me that Greg Jackson said in an interview that Chael was down training with me and getting ready for the fight and knew I was hurt. It was nothing like that at all.. He wasn’t even down here. I asked him if he wanted to come down and help me train a couple months ago, but he didn’t come down."
Now it's really a case of who do you believe. The timing of Sonnen's trash-talk could be pure coincidence and Winkeljohn and Jackson could be completely wrong, or Henderson is lying about his friend's role in this ongoing soap opera.
You can read more quotes from Hendo after the jump.
SBN coverage of UFC 151: Jones vs. Henderson
Henderson also had his thoughts on Jones turning down Sonnen, adding to the list of fighters who would've taken the fight even on short-notice:
"Ultimately it was his decision not to take a fight with Chael," he said. "I don't think it’s unfair that he’s been blasted like that. All I know is, that’s not the decision I would’ve made. Obviously he has his own reasons. I can't think of any reason why I wouldn't take a fight like that. Other than being injured, if I’m healthy, in shape and ready to fight that day, it doesn't matter who they want me to fight. I'll fight, especially if I’m champ."
One of the bigger talking points was the timing of Henderson's injury and why he waited so long to pull out. If he had made his injury public and had informed Dana White earlier then it could've helped prevent the eventual cancellation of the card, as White could've had more options and more time to search for a replacement. Henderson had this to say:
"I was very optimistic," he said. "I was told the MCL heals real fast and should do fine. I had just under a month before the fight so I was pretty optimistic it would get better. I was told not to do anything to stretch it and make it feel unstable and it would heal up a lot faster. That's what I was trying to do. So I could move around on my feet. As long as I was moving forward and backward, it wasn't too bad."
Henderson's knee did not improve even with the rest, and by then the only option was to withdraw. Amazingly, this is the first time Dan has ever pulled out of a fight due to injury, and unfortunately it helped cause one of the most dramatic set of circumstances in UFC history.
As for Henderson's next fight, he aims for a New Year's week return.
Henderson is now wearing a brace and said he would be able to start light training in the next 4-6 weeks. If all goes well, he hopes to be at 100 percent in 3-4 months, and said he'd like to fight on the annual year-end show on Dec. 29.
The interesting part of Henderson's return is whether or not he will still keep his title shot against (almost certainly) Jon Jones. Lyoto Machida is the current #1 contender but he turned down a short-notice title shot with Jones, and Henderson was in the front of the line before Lyoto. It's one of the many things Dana White will need to figure out over the next few weeks.