You wouldn’t know it but arguably the greatest American fighter in MMA history is fighting at UFC 157. If you listened to Dana White you’d probably think I meant Ronda Rousey. Nope, I am talking about Dan Henderson.
I can’t think of a more underappreciated fighter in recent years by the UFC than Dan Henderson. Henderson is truly at a point where he is a living legend. If you are going to use Randy Couture and Chuck Liddell as the barometer, than Dan Henderson is not only right there with them, he may be the greatest of all time.
Some of you may be reading this and waiting to leave a comment telling me what an idiot I am. That’s fine but let’s look at the facts before you jump to those comments. Henderson has been a successful fighter through three generations of fighting. How many other fighters can say that? Generally the pattern of a good fighter is that either they decline due to age or not evolving with the sport. Henderson has beaten father time and has never had a problem shutting down the new flavor of the month. This man has been a winning fighter through three different decades! Who else can say that?
Dana White loves to promote Ronda Rousey as a former Olympic medalist. Heck he basically said her career was better than Tito Ortiz’s simply due to this alone. Henderson didn’t medal in the Olympics but he got their twice. That is a huge accomplishment! Who else has made that kind of successful transition from the Olympics to MMA? This is not only a great fighter, but one of the greatest athletes ever! Think about it. He has been competing at a high level since the early 1990s if you go back to the Olympic trials.
His achievements in MMA are remarkable. The man has been a dominant fighter in two different divisions. He is the only man to ever hold a belt in Strikeforce and Pride Fighting Championships. He has won tournaments in the UFC and RINGS. The man has also never lost more than two fights in a row. That is unbelievable when you look at the level of competition he has fought in his career.
In action he has consistently been one of the most exciting fighters in MMA. He is always going for the knockout and has pulled out some unbelievable come from behind wins in his career. He has had legendary fights that will be talked about forever by the MMA fans that witnessed them. Maybe even most impressive is that the guy never ran from competition. He has consistently fought the best and to be able to continue as a dominant fighter in his 40s after all of those fights is just simply remarkable.
In recent years he has done nothing but win. The guy has one loss in his last eight fights going back to 2008. He has wins over Fedor Emelianenko, Shogun Rua, Rafael Cavalcante, Michael Bisping, and Rich Franklin which again at his age is something that is truly an accomplishment. Not only does he have wins, but he has also had some of the most exciting fights in history during that time period. Once again, the man is simply remarkable.
There is no reason that the last man to hold the Strikeforce light heavyweight title, coming off of a KO of Fedor, should be fighting anyone but the UFC champion period. Dana has not guaranteed Hendo anything even with a win over Machida. The UFC 151 injury and the way it was handled turned into a debacle. I get that. But is this a sport or is this high school? The man earned a title shot and now it is two times that the UFC has taken away his opportunities.
It is time to recognize the greatness of Henderson and his legendary career. The UFC won’t do it but that won’t change my mind. Ronda Rousey may be headlining UFC 157 but I’ll be watching for Dan Henderson.