Dan Henderson made his return to the UFC a triumphant one, edging out former champion and fellow Pride FC veteran Mauricio “Shogun” Rua via unanimous decision in a fight that will no doubt go down as one of the best in MMA history.
Thank the MMA gods that this bout was a five-rounder, as any less would not have done it justice. Henderson and Rua both showed why they are revered by their peers and legions of fans alike, displaying giant-sized heart and unteachable grit in battling back and forth for a full twenty-five minutes.
Breaking this fight down play-by-play simply doesn’t do it justice; it was a spectacle to behold. Henderson came out strong, doing what he does best: landing bone-bruising punches and walking through his opponent’s offense. Shogun absorbed an inhuman amount of punishment from Hendo throughout the first three rounds, but got to his feet everytime he was knocked down and fought on, no matter how battered his face got. Showing indomitable spirit, Shogun not only survived sustained onslaughts that would have left most fighters crumpled in a heap, he continually took the fight back to Henderson, hurting him on more than one occasion.
By the middle, both men were exhausted and beaten, Hendo more the former and Shogun more the latter. Shogun mounted a late rally, taking advantage of Henderson’s exhausted state to put him on the mat and take mount. Henderson would do just enough to survive the last round and win the fight based on what he got done early on. The fight ended with Hendo sucking wind, Shogun sputtering blood and the fans all winners, having bore witness to an MMA classic that will no doubt go down as one of the best fights of all time.
The 41-year-old Henderson improves to 29-8 in victory, extending his current winning streak to four straight and setting himself up for a title fight at light heavyweight or middleweight. Shogun’s career mark now stands at 20-6, but the 29-year-old showed championship spirit tonight and will no doubt return to form.
UFC 139: Shogun vs. Henderson went down tonight from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.