For the first time in a little over two years, Dan Henderson
is a UFC
fighter again. Judging by his gentle ribbing of UFC president Dana White during Tuesday's UFC 139
press conference in San Jose, not too much has changed about his relationship with his boss.
"I guess it's a little bit ironic that every time I win a title somewhere Dana has to buy the company to get me back," Henderson joked before adding that he was glad to be back since "the best match-ups for me are here in the UFC."
As for White, who's traded verbal barbs with Henderson before, during, and after contentious contract negotiations in the past, he seems eager to let bygones be bygones. Especially now that Henderson is back in the fold and headlining UFC 139 against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua
"Dan and I get along just fine," said White. "We butt heads here and there, but we get along great. I respect him as a fighter. He's a durable, tough guy who's been out there beating the best in the world. I can't hate him for knocking Fedor [Emelianenko
] out either, so...I'm happy to have him back."
Henderson gives up his Strikeforce
light heavyweight title to return to the UFC for the first time since his knockout victory over Michael Bisping
at UFC 100. After beating "Feijao" Cavalcante for the Strikeforce belt and then knocking out Emelianenko in a non-title affair, Henderson said, he "wasn't excited about anybody coming up that I might be fighting other than the guys that were going to be in the UFC."
One fight he is excited about, it seems, is a rematch with UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva
"There's only one fight that I'd probably fight at 185 [pounds] and he won't fight right now, I guess," Henderson said in reference to Silva, adding that the champion "said he's hurt."
"Everybody could speculate, and I'd be one of those same people, but that's the fight that we originally talked about," Henderson said. "But evidently he hurt himself."
Sensing perhaps that Henderson wasn't totally sold on the injury story, White stepped in to back up his champion, insisting that Silva was suffering from a shoulder injury after his win over Yushin Okami
at UFC 134
and had been told by his doctor to take eight weeks off.
"Listen, Anderson Silva's fought everybody," White said. "It's not like he's ducking fights. He's never ducked a fight and when he's ready, and if this thing goes right, and if Dan wants to cut that weight, then we can talk about Anderson Silva."
Of course, to even make it a conversation worth having the 41-year-old Henderson first has to get past Rua on November 19. Even if he does, and if he continues to lobby for a rematch with Silva, the UFC might rightfully wonder whether Henderson will be sufficiently interested in sticking around at middleweight should he win the title.
After all, there's not much benefit to giving a guy at shot at the 185-pound strap if, by his own admission, he's "not fond of cutting weight anymore." At least that's something he won't have to worry about for the next couple of months. The fight with Rua may not require him to drop too many pounds, but it will take just about everything he's got if he wants to come out on top.