Way back in 2011, Dan Henderson finally made his return to the UFC after a stellar run in Strikeforce that was capped off by a first round KO of an all-time great in Fedor Emelianenko. His first opponent back would be former UFC Light heavyweight Champion Mauricio Rua, a man who seemed like the perfect opponent for Henderson, and was he ever. On one of the best nights in MMA History, these top ten light-heavyweights battled back and forth in one of the best fights the UFC has seen to date. Neither man backed down as each were hurt throughout the duration of the match. Henderson at first seemed to have picked up right where he left off in the UFC by hurting Shogun with his patented H-Bomb early and often, taking the first three rounds, but this would not be a one sided beat down. Shogun dominated the grappling portion of the fight, mounting Henderson badly hurting him in the later rounds. The fight would go the full five round with Henderson winning this thriller by 48-47 across the board. So why not a rematch, sounds awesome right? Wrong.
Fast forward 3 years to today, and these two are once again set to face each other in the octagon but under much different circumstances. Last time around they were fighting for a shot at the Light-heavyweight strap, but now neither are in the top ten and are in the last dying years of their careers. Since their last fight they have a combined record of 2-5 with both of those wins coming against mediocre competition. In fact, Henderson last win was his barn-burner against Shogun way back in 2011 and is now supporting a 3 fight losing skid. A mere look at this rematch and you can see many issues with it. The main issue with this fight is the issue of timing, the ship has sailed on this rematch, and it did a long time ago. No one was asking for it and it doesn't even seem like the right move for the two men. Shogun and Hendo are both at different points of their careers and with one of these men losing it could be the end of the road. Secondly, it seems very likely that this fight doesn't live up to the first one and could dampen everyone’s opinion of the legendary first one.
So how do I see it going? Compared to the first I see it totally different, both of these guys aren't what they were in 2011 and with that said I'm leaning towards the fresher fighter in "Shogun" Rua. "Shogun" is fresher in the sense that he’s the younger fighter and has less miles on him than Henderson. Cardio like in the first will be a major factor as it goes into the later rounds. "Shogun" is notorious for gassing but against Henderson he should have the better cardio over the older veteran. The only X-factor in this fight is Henderson’s power, if he lands the whole fight could change in an instant. Both of these guys are extremely shopworn and this fight is just going to further show that, the further it goes the worse it’s going to be. Expect this one to go the distance as I don’t expect either of them to put the other away.