Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Shogun Rua made a strong case at UFC 139 for the greatest fight in UFC history. A five round main-event ended with the former Pride FC stars putting on an MMA war. Henderson escaped with a win in a fight MMA fans will be talking about forever.
The first pay per view, non-title headliner sure made great use out of the two extra rounds tonight. Dan Henderson returned after a two-year hiatus and picked up right where he left off in the UFC with a win. The victory over the former UFC light heavyweight champion will undoubtedly put Henderson right at the top of the mix for a UFC light heavyweight title shot.
The UFC 139 main-event was without a doubt one of the most exciting fights in company history. Henderson started out strong, dominating most of the early rounds. Hendo opened a cut on Rua early in the first round which blinded Rua by the end of the fight. Henderson had opportunities in the first two rounds where it looked as if he was going to put the fight away. Unfortunately for him and fortunately for UFC 139 viewers, Rua withered the storm and survived the early onslaught.
[adinserter block=”2″]Going into the third round Henderson’s corner told him, “He’s dead, he’s dead!” I didn’t buy it and it didn’t look like Hendo did either. Henderson looked a little tired in the early going while Rua looked like he caught a second wind. Rua started to find an uppercut that gave the former Strikeforce and Pride FC champion trouble. Henderson at one point caught him and swarmed in for what looked like the inevitable end. Yet Rua hung on once again. At this point I think it is fair to say that Henderson had punched himself out. Rua closed the round strong in what would be the beginning of one of the most remarkable comebacks in UFC history.
Rua came into the fourth with his eye practically shut. Henderson caught Rua in a crucifix early but couldn’t hold it. Both guys go back and forth with Henderson just looking dead tired in the fourth. Rua again found daylight with the uppercut and completely turned the fight around midway through the fourth. The atmosphere for this fight at this point was just unreal. Fans realized they were seeing a classic and ate up every second of it. The round closed with Rua just obliterating Henderson.
The fifth round was a round for the ages. After being bloodied and battered for most of the fight, Rua came back and just dominated Henderson. It was similar to the third round in the John Ott vs. Bobby Lashley fight to a degree, for those that saw that fight. Rua just dominated Henderson with mount after mount, but was unable to finish the former champion. The round ended with Rua punching from the mount onto an exhausted Henderson.
The fight went to Henderson on a unanimous decision. It is tough to argue that after the first two and a half rounds, but the result is very misleading. Rua was so beaten up in the post fight interview, you could barely understand him from what was likely a broken jaw. Henderson looked like he was ready to pass out. Both guys showed tremendous heart and deserve a lot of respect for the courage that they showed through five rounds.
Wow, where do you go from here? For Henderson, you are now talking about a guy that has a four fight winning streak in the UFC, winning his last six of seven overall. Even more impressive is the list of fighters he has beaten in his last six. If he didn’t earn a UFC championship fight after tonight’s win I don’t think he’ll ever get one. The problem is with Chael Sonnen vs. Anderson Silva and Rashad Evans vs. the Jon Jones vs. Lyoto Machida winner, he is stuck in line with everyone else.
I think you have to strike while the iron is hot on Henderson. He is 41 years old and coming off a classic win, as well as a win over Fedor Emelianenko. You are playing with fire if the UFC keeps him on the sidelines for another 8-12 months in the light heavyweight division. I think you spring him forward over Rashad Evans and give him the Jones vs. Machida winner. If a guy with his record and this kind of win can’t get a title shot, well then the whole organization lacks credibility in my opinion.
For Rua, this was a tough loss. The former UFC light heavyweight champion is now 1-1 following the championship loss. Dana White has always said it is how you lose, and not just simply losing that keeps you in the UFC. If Rua didn’t earn a UFC job for life after tonight’s performance, he never will. You could match him up with Rashad Evans and give Henderson the next title fight. Rampage Jackson or the Jones vs. Machida loser is another possibility as well.
There is always the option for a rematch. I am not a big fan of immediate rematches, but you can’t tell me that people wouldn’t pay to see these guys go another five rounds. If Evans gets the next title shot, I say make the rematch. It is a much better alternative than Henderson vs. the Jones vs. Machida loser or Rampage Jackson. Unfortunately due to medical issues it would never happen, but boy what a great fight for the next UFC on Fox 2 special.
In the co-headliner, Henderson and Rua’s former Pride FC colleague Wanderlei Silva got a much needed win over Cung Le. Silva closed the distance and put Le down with a straight right. Silva was able to nail Le with a few vicious knee strikes and then swarm in for the kill. The win was as big as it gets because a loss would have likely sent Silva out to pasture. The victory guarantees that the Axe Murderer will fight again in the UFC.
[adinserter block=”1″]Urijah Faber won himself a UFC championship fight tonight. Faber defeated Brian Bowles in the second round with a guillotine. Even more important is that the fight clinches a championship rematch with Dominick Cruz. Up until tonight’s main-event, Cruz vs. Faber from July was my pick for Fight of the Year. I have no problem seeing this one again. Faber looked great and should be a tough test for Cruz to defeat for a second time.
Full UFC 139: Shogun vs. Hendo results…
Danny Castillo defeated Shamar Bailey via TKO in Round 1
Seth Baczynski defeated Matt Brown via submission in Round 2
Miguel Torres defeated Nick Pace via unanimous decision
Gleison Tibau defeated Rafael dos Anjos via decision
Chris Weidman defeated Tom Lawlor via choke in Round 1
Michael McDonald defeated Alex Soto via KO in Round 1
Ryan Bader defeated Jason Brilz via KO in Round 1
Stephan Bonnar defeated Kyle Kingsbury via unanimous decision
Martin Kampmann defeated Rick Story via decision
Urijah Faber defeated. Brian Bowles via submission in Round 2
Wanderlei Silva defeated Cung Le via TKO in Round 2
Dan Henderson vs. Shogun Rua
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