When Dan Henderson steps into the cage with Gegard Mousasi this Saturday, it won't be just another bout for the 42-fight veteran. It is supposed to be the start of his road to a UFC title. Henderson held respective belts in Pride FC and Strikeforce, but failed in two UFC title opportunities against Quinton Jackson (2007) and Anderson Silva (2008). He still wants to make up for that, by fulfilling this one final goal of his long and storied career, Henderson told FOX Sports:
"I wouldn't be still doing it if I didn't think it was possible. It's something you just have to wait and see how I feel at middleweight, but in practice I feel great. My body's doing what I need it to do. I feel I'm improving every practice. Cardio's where it needs to be as well so I'm feeling good."
In 2011 Henderson won the Strikeforce title at light-heavyweight and even fought at heavyweight, before returning to the UFC. After six fights at 205 lbs., Henderson feels it is finally time to move down to middleweight again - and challenge for a belt there. He got the idea for the first time after his second encounter with Mauricio Rua last year, he said, but had to wait with dropping the weight and face Olympic wrestler Daniel Cormier first.
"I wanted to maybe move down to middleweight. It felt like it was probably going to be a while to get a title shot at 205 and middleweight might be a little quicker at that time. I told that to Dana (White) and he wanted me to fight D.C. (Daniel Cormier) anyways. I said alright and now I'm down at middleweight."
Well, the fight against Cormier didn't play out too well for "Hendo", since he got tossed around like a rag doll and submitted in the third round. Now he might be back at 185 lbs., but with Chris Weidman on top of the division and the likes of Ronaldo Souza, Luke Rockhold, Lyoto Machida and maybe the returning Anderson Silva waiting line, he won't be getting a title shot here any quicker, either.
Still, this will be a very important fight for both, him and Mousasi. Henderson is 2-4 in his last six UFC bouts, Mousasi went 2-2 since entering the UFC. A win over the number-eight ranked Mousasi could at least catapult Henderson directly into the top ten.
UFC on Fox 14 is headlined by Alexander Gustafsson vs. Anthony Johnson and takes place this Saturday in Stockholm, Sweden.