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Dan Henderson on rematch with ‘Shogun’ Rua: I won’t punch myself out this time

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The last time Dan Henderson had his hand raised after a fight was on Nov. 19, 2011, after a five-round battle with Mauricio Rua. They will meet again 856 days later in UFC Fight Night 38’s main event in Natal, Brazil, and the former PRIDE champion feels ready to get back on track.

Henderson and "Shogun" headlined UFC 139 card in San Jose, Calif., and the Team Quest veteran dominated the first three rounds. He gassed, and the Brazilian got the best of him in the later rounds.

"Not to punch myself out trying to finish him because he’s hard to finish," Henderson told MMAFighting.com when asked about the lessons he learned in their first encounter. "I’ll take my shots a little better.

"I’m excited to come down here and fight. I’m already used to hear the (Brazilian) fans say I’m going to die, so I want to come down here and prove them wrong (laughs)."

UFC champion Jon Jones was the only man capable of finishing "Shogun" with strikes during his 12-year MMA career, but Henderson is confident he can do it.

"I’m capable of finishing him, but it doesn’t always happens when you want, so I’m ready to go five rounds," he said. "I’m excited about it."

"Shogun" still thinks the first fight should have been a draw. Henderson disagrees.

"He was trying to finish me in the last round, and I know that one of the criteria to get a 10-8 is when you’re close to get finished," he said. "He had the mount most of the fifth round but he wasn’t doing much to me. He was so tired he didn’t hurt me. If you score that way, the third round was also a 10-8. It is what it is."

Coming off three straight losses under the UFC banner, Henderson won’t play it safe to get back to the win column.

"I don’t know if it affects my strategy at all," he said about the losses. "Just make sure to control the fight a little bit better, making sure I don’t end up on the bottom."

"In my mind, I’m not coming off three losses, but it’s still three losses," he continued. "I don’t want a fourth on that, for sure. In the first, Rashad, I felt should have gone other way. It was a close fight, it’s not like I was beat up for three fights. It’s a little bit extra motivation, I guess, to make sure it doesn’t happen again, but it won’t change my strategy in the fight."