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UFC 151: Assessing Dan Henderson's UFC Hall Of Fame Credentials

Photo: Esther Lin / MMA Fighting
Photo: Esther Lin / MMA Fighting

We're not too far off from UFC 151, a show which sees 41-year old Dan Henderson attempt to defy the odds and take the UFC light heavyweight title from Jon Jones. Henderson is riding a four fight win streak and has a career dating back to 1997 with a career record of 29-8.

Yesterday, on the UFC 151 conference call, Dana White said that Henderson was a lock for the UFC Hall of Fame (transcription via MMA Mania):

"I thought Couture was wrapping it up at 37. Dan Henderson is a three time world champion. He's a great wrestler, has knockout power in both hands and has fought everyone from 170 pounds all the way to heavyweight. He continues to impress no matter how old he gets. Jon Jones has been on a tear. If he wrecks Dan Henderson, that would be even more impressive. No one has ever knocked out Dan Henderson. He's got a rock solid, iron chin. If he did that it would be quite a feat. Whether Dan Henderson wins or loses, he's a UFC Hall of Famer."

After the jump we'll look at Henderson's UFC career and see if he has a case.

Given that it's the "UFC Hall of Fame" and not the "MMA Hall of Fame" it would seem that this would need to be based only on UFC credentials (otherwise, where is Fedor?). So here's a quick rundown of Dan's UFC fights:

  • UFC 17 - Dan Henderson wins UFC middleweight tournament, defeating Allan Goes and Carlos Newton. It's worth noting that the win over Newton was generally considered a very bad decision.
  • UFC 75 - Henderson returns to the UFC as the PRIDE middleweight and welterweight champion and takes on Quinton Jackson in a unification bout. Henderson loses by unanimous decision.
  • UFC 82 - Henderson faces Anderson Silva in a PRIDE/UFC unification bout and loses by second round submission.
  • UFC 88 - Henderson wins over Rousimar Palhares by unanimous decision.
  • UFC 93 - Henderson beats Rich Franklin by split decision in a mildly controversial decision.
  • UFC 100 - Henderson wins via huge knockout over opposing Ultimate Fighter coach Michael Bisping.
  • UFC 139 - Henderson returns to the UFC after a stint in Strikeforce. He defeats Mauricio Rua by mildly controversial decision in one of the best fights the sport has ever seen. Many felt that were the last round scored 10-8 as Rua was dominant in the round, it would have resulted in a draw.
  • Dan Henderson's UFC record: 6-2

It's interesting that 3 of Henderson's 6 UFC wins had some measure of controversy. I have no real problem personally with Henderson's wins over Franklin or Rua.

If you take his PRIDE and Strikeforce stints into account, Henderson is an absolute "MMA Hall of Famer." But on UFC credentials only, his case is iffy.

A win over Jon Jones would absolutely change that though. But, I guess Dana already covered that it doesn't really matter.

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