Anderson Silva, Rashad Evans, and Jon Jones may not be looking ahead to their next opponent, but their next opponent is looking at them. Dan Henderson has been guaranteed the next UFC title shot at one of the UFC championship winners and will gladly wait until he is ready.
UFC president Dana White confirmed this week that Henderson will sit out until the next champion is available. Henderson has been adamant since defeating Shogun Rua at UFC 139 that he will not take another fight until a champion is available. In something of a change in attitude, White has no problem accommodating Henderson.
[adinserter block=”2″]”Yes, Dan Henderson will get the winner of that fight (Jones vs. Evans) or the winner of the Anderson Silva fight. Dan Henderson just wants a title shot. You know, there was a lot of talk about the stuff I said. Here is the thing. I offered Dan Henderson two fights. Dan Henderson wants this fight. Normally I don’t do that. Guys don’t sit around and wait and pick their fights. There’s been very specific cases where that has happened and it’s guys who have earned it or deserved it. Dan Henderson is one of those guys. Listen, Henderson has been around forever. He is forty-something years old. He has been knocking guys out left and right and if he wants to sit around and wait for this title shot, he can do it.”
White hasn’t always been this accommodating to Henderson. Henderson was scheduled to fight Anderson Silva for the UFC middleweight championship before he left the UFC a few years back. After announcing the fight, White pulled the bout. In response, Henderson threatened to sit out until he got the title shot he was promised. This whole episode was the catalyst to Henderson leaving the UFC for Strikeforce. Dana White wasn’t nearly as content to let Henderson wait in 2009 as he is now.
“I wanted him to s**t or get off the pot,” White said. “He was in this limbo forever, and he needed more motivation to make a decision.”
Henderson returned to the UFC at the end of 2011 after a successful run in Strikeforce. After losing his first Strikeforce fight at middleweight against Jake Shields, Henderson went up to light heavyweight. At light heavyweight Henderson went on a three fight winning streak which included winning the light heavyweight championship. Henderson’s crowning moment came after he KO’d Fedor Emelianenko in the first round in his final Strikeforce fight.
Henderson left Strikeforce as the champion and hasn’t lost a fight in the UFC since being submitted by Anderson Silva in their championship bout at UFC 82. Henderson had a strong first round, giving Silva his first round-loss in the UFC. Since the loss Henderson has gone 7-1. His win against Rua came after a grueling five-round fight that many proclaimed the 2011 MMA Fight of the Year.
[adinserter block=”1″]As a big Henderson fan, I am more interested in a Henderson vs. Jones fight than any of the other possibilities. Henderson has said that he wouldn’t fight Sonnen if Sonnen defeats Silva so that is out. While I think Jones would beat Henderson, I could see Henderson giving him a much tougher fight than most expect. An Evans vs. Henderson fight does very little for me as a fan. To me, I think the shot at the light heavyweight title makes the most sense, although the rematch with Silva seems to be something that has driven Henderson for the last three years.
Either way it looks like Henderson will have the first opportunity to become the first-ever MMA triple crown champion winning belts in Strikeforce, Pride FC, and the UFC.
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