Less than five months after suffering the most devastating loss of his career, Dan Henderson will square off against a familiar foe – Mauricio "Shogun" Hua. It's been a perilous journey for Henderson, but how exactly did he end up here?
December 4th, 2010—Dan Henderson def. Renato Sobral via KO
March 5th, 2011—Dan Henderson def. Rafael Cavalcante via KO
June 30th, 2011—Dan Henderson def. Fedor Emelianenko via KO
November 11, 2011—Dan Henderson def. Mauricio Rua via Unanimous Decision
August 23, 2013—Dan Henderson announces a knee injury will keep him from fighting at UFC 151.
February 23, 2013—Lyoto Machida def. Dan Henderson via Split Decision
June 15, 2013—Rashad Evans def. Dan Henderson via Split Decision
November 9, 2013—Vitor Belfort def. Dan Henderson via KO
March 23, 2014—Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua II
Barely a year ago, the former champ had rattled off four straight wins to secure a title shot against Jonny "Bones" Jones. After a knee injury forced him from the bout, Henderson accrued three disappointing defeats. The losses to Machida and Evans were closely contested snorefests, but the knockout to Belfort provides cause for concern.
The particularly brutal loss places Henderson in a limbo I’ll refer to as "Couturitory" (named after retired Hall of Famer, Randy Couture). "Couturitory" is a purgatory where former greats meander before eventually retiring. Randy spent four of his final five fights in "Couturitory" before Machida sent him packing. Unfortunately for Henderson, Father Time is forcing him down a similar path.
After seventeen years of warring savagery, Hendo’s war chest is all but empty. His waning endurance, sluggish H-Bomb, and failing chin have trapped him in a truly compromising position—he’s good enough to beat almost anyone, but not great enough to conquer the best.
Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Chuck Liddell, should serve as a cautionary tale. After compiling a seven fight win streak (four of them UFC title defenses), Liddell lost five of his final six bouts, with four of those losses coming by way of knockout. And therein lies the downfall of most greats – In the end, their hearts aim to achieve what their bodies cannot.
I have no problem with Hendo spending the twilight of his career picking off inferior competition (see Rampage Jackson), but danger will emerge if he continually wades beyond his shallowing depths. The far side of "Couturitory" contains but one thing—"Liddellitory". If Henderson can’t stop himself before treading those waters, I hope those around him can.