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UFC 139 Main Event Breakdown: Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua

When you look at the tale of the tape for UFC 139's main event, the only difference that really jumps out at you is age. For Dan Henderson, it's probably going to be that way for the rest of his career. In fact, at 41 years old, he is the oldest fighter on the UFC roster. By comparison, his opponent, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua is 29.

Despite being over a decade apart in age, Henderson has had a more successful recent history than Rua, winning six of his last seven overall -- four by knockout -- with his only defeat coming in a decision loss to Jake Shields. Henderson has also pulled off wins in three weight classes (middleweight, light-heavyweight and heavyweight) during that time.

His return comes on the heels of one of his most dominant stretches since his PRIDE days. Not only has he KO'd three straight opponents, he also was the Strikeforce light-heavyweight champ and won a heavyweight bout against Fedor Emelianenko.

There is nothing he really needs to accomplish before calling it quits, but Henderson would love to earn a UFC championship, a feat that would make him the only man to capture titles in Strikeforce, PRIDE and the UFC, the leading promotions of his era.

For the last few years of his career, Henderson (28-8) has mostly been a striker, a vast departure from his early days as a wrestling-heavy grinder. In his last seven fights, he has just seven takedowns, and he tends to wrestle offensively in spurts. For example, against Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante in March, he scored three takedowns, and against Rich Franklin in January 2009, he had four. In his five other fights, he had none. Most puzzling in that stretch was the one loss to Shields, where he didn't try a single attempt in a five-round fight.

That can make Henderson tricky to prepare for, but because of his power, you have to focus on that as a starting point. Henderson keeps his right hand cocked by his ear, ready to fire at any opening. He is very patient in waiting for his moment, but aggressive when it comes.

Unlike many elite fighters, Henderson does not blow away his opponents in statistical categories. According to FightMetric's breakdown of his last 31 fights, Henderson lands 2.46 significant strikes per minute while his opponents land 2.36 against him. He lands 49 percent of strikes while opponents land 50 percent against him.

Even in the wrestling game, the former Olympian hasn't overwhelmed his opponents, as he's completed 59 percent of takedowns while opponents have put him on the mat on 41 percent of tries against him. Yet somehow when you add that all up, Henderson is elite.

That's because the sum total of his skills allows him to overcome most of his issues. If you are willing to stand and trade with him, he's probably a harder striker than you. If you want to take him down, it's not going to be easy, but even if you do, he'll probably get right back up. And with most of his fights contested standing, his power is going to win out most of the time.

Rua (20-5) has alternated wins and losses over his last five fights, though one of those defeats -- a decision loss to Lyoto Machida -- was controversial. In March, Rua lost the division championship, but he came back to knock out Forrest Griffin in less than two minutes in August.

Rua features a very diverse striking attack that is heavy on kicks, knees and clinchwork. According to FightMetric, he out-lands opponents at a nearly 2-to-1 rate, a major gap that explains much of his success. He is an average offensive wrestler (48 percent success rate) but his defensive wrestling has been downright terrible during his UFC tenure. In his seven UFC fights, he's only stopped two of 17 takedown tries against him. That means opponents put him on the mat on 88 percent of their attempts. That could prove disastrous against Henderson if Henderson capitalizes on the advantage that's there for the taking.

In this fight, Rua's footwork will be important as he must circle away from Henderson's power hand. His kicks can also keep him out of range for that overhand right.

One other factor to think about is the potential for a five-round fight. Rua has exhibited conditioning issues at times, and Henderson is 41. Who will a long fight favor? Possibly Henderson, because if they fall into clinches, he can take Rua down and earn points from the top position. But as I noted previously, Henderson wrestles in spurts, and that may or may not be a part of his plan on Saturday.

Rua is a slight favorite in this fight, and I understand the thinking. He has more diversity in his standup offense, and this is likely to be a standup battle. But this is no easy money fight for him. Henderson's right hand and wrestling can be difference-makers. Above it all, we know both men have shown epic chins. This fight is a coin toss, but I'm going to guess Shogun's technique overcomes Hendo's sheer power and wins an exciting decision.

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