UFC 173: Barao vs. Dillashaw - Daniel Cormier vs. Dan Henderson Preview and Prognostication

Photo by Esther Lin of MMA Fighting

Danie Cormier inches closer towards a title shot against Jon Jones should he take out the legend, Dan Henderson. Does Hendo still have enough to spoil Cormier's ascendance in the division?

Daniel Cormier vs. Dan Henderson Light Heavyweight

Another great fight! Damn this fight makes me hungry...I'm going to Popeye's. You want any?

That's racist!

Huh?

Nevermind. I thought you implied something derogatory about my last name and insulted its rich history by asking me if I wanted food from the only fast food I can sort of tolerate if I'm starving and don't have access to a Trader Joe's.

Of course you would. You're from the part of Texas that's a problem with America.

Love that scene.

I thought Cormier fought at Heavyweight?

He used to despite the health problems that once kept him from moving down thanks to proper dieting.

Cormier entered the MMA scene a major prospect with an unlimited ceiling and championship material. At heavyweight. But his friendship with current champ, Cain Velasquez has hindered it. So now he fights at LHW to hunt for Jones' title. A title shot he will get in time.

Unfortunately he didn't get a chance to showcase his skills against the elite in his last outing. Patrick Cumins was brought in, for whatever bizarre reason promoted as some found treasure with a blood feud, and was dispatched quickly by a fighter he didn't belong in the cage with.

Still, the guy is savagely talented. Make no mistake. This is a showcase fight.

What? Henderson is awesome and just knocked out Shogun to prove it!

He was also nearly ended himself.

Henderson is clearly in the twilight of his career. While he hasn't suffered a real embarrassing loss besides Vitor Belfort, it's clear that he's lost a few steps.

And yet nothing will stop me from betting on Hendo at +625.

The number would be rightfully higher if it wasn't for Dan's name value.

You don't sound too interested in this fight.

It's a good fight, don't get me wrong. Electric even.

But it's also a foregone conclusion. Henderson is getting slower, and what's worse is that now you're finally seeing his chin begin to wither with everything else.

Let's consider the matchup. Henderson's chance is to land that big right hand. Granted, he's more adept at landing this punch because he often sets up and variety of ways. Usually it's preceded by an inside left kick. His boxing in general has evolved a bit. But age has made the edges around him that made him special, jagged.

Granted, those numbers are just fine because Dan still has that evil right hand, but don't expect Cormier to leave himself too vulnerable.

Can we just pretend this fight is competitive and analyze it from there?

Sure.

Glass half empty thinking aside when it comes to Hendo, he's a phenomenal fighter who has always been more well rounded than he's given credit for. Particularly his grappling, which is justifiably criticized and lauded simultaneously.

Henderson is a smarter scrambler than is commonly assumed. It's true, his takedown defense isn't very good, which as is often noted, counterintuitive for a guy with his wrestling pedigree. But what he lacks in a sturdy sprawl, he makes up for in clinching and shifting his way up from the ground and onto the feet.

But it's not like Cormier is perfect.

He's not. In fact, similar to Hendo, and really a lot of wrestle-boxers, the variety on their feet is limited, which makes them susceptible to unorthodox attacks assuming their opponent can defend the takedown.

The thing about Cormier is that he's not like most wrestle boxers. He's much craftier on the feet, and keeps his attack varied. I'm reminded of his wild shot out of a cannon jump kick he lobbed in the direction of Frank Mir.

Wrestling will likely be a factor here, but I suspect this will be a striking contest. The only time we've seen Henderson controlled on the ground for an extended period of time was the Jake Shields fight (while old, you could include the Murilo Rua fight). It requires a grappling specialist to control Dan on the mat, so Cormier doesn't really fit that mold.

And so despite those attractive betting odds, I'm still resigned to picking Cormier. He punches hard enough that I'd expect something like an uppercut, or a simple straight right to land and rock Dan on the feet. Cormier is quick, and should be able to land punches that will ultimately stagger and doom the legendary 43 year old.

Dan has led an amazing career. If this is his last hurrah, let's hope he can at least make it interesting.

Daniel Cormier by TKO, round 2.

Here's Bloody Elbow's Dallas Winston, Kid Nate and Connor Ruebusch analyzing the match up from this week's Vivisection:


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