Pride Fighting Championships’ veterans Dan Henderson and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua will meet in the main event of this weekend’s UFC 139 fight card in a battle of seasoned former champions.
Henderson returns to the UFC after a four-fight stint in Strikeforce that saw him earn the promotion’s light heavyweight title as well as knock out heavyweight veteran Fedor Emelianenko. The 41-year-old is excited to be back with the UFC, where he’ll likely end his career, and to be fighting Shogun, a fighter for whom he holds great respect.
“I’ve definitely feel like I’ve got a lot of fight left in me,” said Hendo. “I’m excited about fighting Shogun. It’s something the fans have been looking forward to for a long time and wanting for a long time. He’s a tough opponent, well-rounded and definitely a huge challenge for me to get past.”
An emphatic victory over Rua could earn him a title shot against current champ Jon Jones, but Henderson has been around too long not to give an opponent of Shogun’s caliber his full attention.
“I really haven’t given a whole lot of thought to (fighting Jones) since I’ve been matched up with Shogun, that’s been my focus,” he said.
For his part, Shogun is also delaying any thoughts of getting his belt back, as Henderson represents about as stiff a challenge as there exists in the light heavyweight division.
“I think certainly this is a marquee fight, a very important fight,” said Shogun. “Dan Henderson is a legend in MMA, he was champion in Pride, a champion in the UFC – he’s a guy with big history in the sport. This fight means a lot to me, but I’m not thinking right now about fighting for the belt or what will come next. I will only think about that after this fight. Right now, my whole focus is on Dan Henderson.”
UFC 139: Shogun vs. Henderson goes down this Saturday from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. FightLine will be back on the night with our live, ongoing coverage of the event.