Mixed martial arts veteran Dan Henderson left behind his Strikeforce light heavyweight title to return to the UFC for the third time in his storied career. For his first fight back with the promotion, Hendo will face off against former UFC light heavyweight champ and fellow Pride FC veteran Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Henderson spoke this week about returning to the UFC, facing Rua, and possibly challenging for the title after this fight.
“I’m going to finish up my career in the UFC and I am excited by it; and the fact the UFC has a huge FOX deal now makes it even more exciting. I am not going to worry about my next fight – as far as getting a title shot – I need to win this fight and then the rest will take care of itself,” said Henderson. “I need to win in the Octagon this weekend first before I talk about what’s next. Shogun is a very dangerous opponent; this is a fight I wanted to happen years ago in Pride and he’s a name that will look good on my record.”
At 41-years-old, Henderson looks as good as he ever has, probably better. After dropping a decision to Jake Shields in his Strikeforce debut, Hendo rattled off three straight knockout victories, one over Fedor Emelianenko at heavyweight. The former U.S. Olympian draws confidence from his recent results and feels like he’s poised to beat anyone put in front of him, but he knows that Shogun will make it hard for him this Saturday.
“I feel I have got a lot of fights left in myself. I am 41 and feel great,” he said. “I’m not putting a time limit on anything. I think I can put a game plan together to beat anyone out there. I am aggressive throughout the whole fight and always trying to finish a fight, although Shogun is very good and well-rounded so that will be a challenge to do.”
Though his background is in wrestling, Henderson has become known as one of the most potent knockout artists in MMA thanks to his wicked right hand. Add to that a granite chin and you have a fighter who isn’t afraid to hang with a vaunted Muay Thai fighter like Shogun. Hendo intends to beat out Shogun wherever the fight goes, including on the feet, and doesn’t put much stock into his opponent’s recent assertion that he’ll become the first man to knock Henderson out.
“I am going to try to out strike Shogun. I am going to try to beat him in every aspect of MMA,” said Henderson. “I guess I could get knocked out like anyone can get knocked out, but I’ve been lucky enough not to get hit on the button yet. But, him saying he’s going to be the first man to knock me out, good luck to him on that one.”
Henderson and Shogun meet at the HP Pavilion this Saturday in the main event of UFC 139. FightLine will be back on the night for our live, ongoing coverage of the fights.