At UFC 139, Dan Henderson and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua put on a classic five round fight, and at the UFC Fight Night in Natal, Brazil, MMA fans were treated to a fantastic comeback. Dan Henderson viciously put Shogun down with a right hand after being on the wrong end of a two round beating.
Both fighters are clearly legends and have had storied careers. Henderson is likely the best American born MMA fighter in the sport up until this point. It was a fantastic clash of all time greats.
On to thoughts about the fights:
- Henderson won with a wonderful bit of MMA veteran craftsmanship, punching his way out of the clinch. Filling any sort of transition with a strike is a sign of an excellent MMA fighter. While it was an excellent KO, Henderson was getting worked in this fight up until then, and there is little reason to think that Henderson will be successful if he wades back into the deep end of the Light Heavyweight division.
- The issue of TRT does loom over Dan Henderson's later career. The lack of a steroid positive test in Henderson's history and the fact that he has not fled regulatory bodies is to his credit. That said, both Henderson and Rua hailed from an era of MMA with very little regulation when it came to PEDs, so to think that neither fighter has ever used would be naive. Happily the TRT issues, at least, is closed after this fight, but PEDs will continue on in MMA.
- C.B. Dolloway's striking looked excellent as he showed off some subtle defense, using his shoulder to absorb some strikes and then turning defense into offense. Dolloway's left hook was sharp, and his right hand is what started the ball rolling down hill for Cezar Ferreira. While Ferreira isn't the biggest name for Dolloway, there a clear step forward in Dolloway's game.
- Fabio Maldonado got another win on grit, guts, and boxing. Gian Villante dominated the early portion of the fight on the ground, but Maldonado used his boxing to win the second two rounds. While Maldonado is an excellent boxer as he mixes together head and body shots, his grappling is still horrific. No real evolution from Maldonado, but he does provide a good measuring stick for Light Heavyweights hoping to move towards the upper levels of division.
- Michel Prazeres showed well rounded skills against Mairbek Taisumov. And what Taisumov showed is that he doesn't know how to defend a takedown without grabbing fence. Mario Yamasaki was very quick to take points from Taisumov. If Yamasaki is consistent with that policy, it is the best way to prevent cage grabbing. Endless warnings without actual repercussions do nothing. It was a positive sign from Yamasaki, but he slipped back into bad habits as he never followed up on a thread to DQ Taisumov or enforce the same standard in other fights.
- Rony Jason's boxing looked very crisp as he put Steven Siler out of the feet and then woke him up with a left hand that sent him to the canvas. The stoppage by Wernei Cardoso was far too early as Siler seemed to be ready to defend himself.
- In a little touch of ironic justice, moments after Brian Stann reported that Ronny Markes' coaches said his missing weight was due his overeating while with family, Thiago Santos landed a nasty body kick to drop Markes. The liver shot dropped Markes and Santos was able to finish. Coming of back-to-back losses and a massive, neglectful missing weight, I'm very low on Markes at this point despite his being only 25-years-old.
- Jussier Formiga caught a break with an accidental headbutt of Scott Jorgensen, but that doesn't take away from the phenomenal back control and rear naked choke that was part neck crank. Formiga badly needed a signature win in the Flyweight division as he came into the UFC with a great deal of fanfare and has up until this point been something of a disappointment.
- Kenny Robertson continues to be an enigma as he just destroys Thiago Perpetuo. Robertson looked fantastic on the ground as he slipped on to the back and sunk a choke pretty effortlessly. Seems like Roberston looks dominant every other fight.
- Card opened with young prospects getting W's, as Godofredo "Pepey" Castro and Hans Stringer both get their hands raised. Pepey is an exciting, athlete young Brazilian and his flying knee KO here is sure to get attention. Stringer's fight was a grinding affair, but the large Dutchman is an interesting fighter. Both are 26-years-old and are worth following, but Pepey almost certainly has a bit more upside than Stringer.