If you watched UFC 157 this past Saturday night, you were like every other fan that was terribly disappointed in the Dan Henderson vs Lyoto Machida fight. Fans tuned in to see a #1 contender emerge to challenge Jon Jones for his title, but instead saw a track meet. Back pedaling and being elusive was a smart game plan for Machida, but brutally unaesthetically pleasing to watch. In all fairness who would want to stand in front of Dan Henderson and trade power shots? The answer is, not many people. More often than not, if you stand in front of Dan Henderson you will likely wake up staring at the arena ceiling.
Dan Henderson will never make excuses for anything. He didn’t make excuses when he went into his fight with Jake Shields with a severely injured back, and he surely didn’t let it be known that he was battling a flu bug when he fought Shogun Rua. So, when Dan Henderson didn’t fight for over a year, you know it was because Dan was badly injured and unable to compete. He has made his career being the guy that will fight at any weight, anywhere, and any time. If you are a fan of mixed martial arts, then you have to appreciate Dan Henderson. He is what all MMA fighters should strive to be like.
I asked Dan from his perspective what happened in his fight with Lyoto Machida at UFC 157. He was prepared for Machida’s ‘elusiveness’, but definitely not the extent of the elusiveness. Dan’s thoughts on the fight with Lyoto Machida clearly show his frustration with the way he fought, judging, and his own performance. He makes no excuses and the following quotes are directly related to the questions asked about the fight.
“I kind of expected him to run to a point, but I didn’t expect him to not really engage at all. It was probably the most frustrating fight I’ve ever fought. Maybe I should have pressured him more, but I felt like I was pressuring him enough. He was tough to hit. Even the way the fight went, I still thought I had done enough to win, but evidently not.”
“I didn’t have the best training camp, due injuries and stuff. Towards the end of my camp everything came together and I was able to do what I needed to do during practices, and wasn’t having any issues with injuries. Possibly, because of that, my timing was a little off or footwork wasn’t as good as it could have been. There are a lot of things that I’m normally a little bit better at, but I wasn’t that night. I don’t know if it was the time off or injuries in camp that held me up, but either way I still had the tools to be in there and I should have changed it up a little bit when I knew he wouldn’t engage with me.”
“I felt the first 2 rounds could have gone either way. Even if it had been 1 round apiece I had just been on top of him for a couple of minutes in the 3rd round and thought he’d really have to come at me (because Machida would think he was losing). I waited for him to come at me but he never really did. Maybe a couple of kicks but, that’s it. Unfortunately for the fans, I let him fight his fight, which is to not really fight.”
“I really should have changed it up during the fight. I planned on taking him down a little bit more, but didn’t. I can’t blame it completely on the judges or Lyoto. There are things I was capable of doing that I didn’t do. It’s tough to fight a guy that doesn’t want to fight you, though.”
After discussing the Machida fight we went on to talk about Dan’s future in the UFC. Despite having a career that has seen him fight at middleweight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight he says,
“185 pounds is always a possibility, but at this point, I want to stay at 205 pounds. I know I’m capable of winning that belt there. I just didn’t have a great fight, and not having a great fight I still thought I had done enough to win. Sucks to lose those really close ones, but ultimately I shouldn’t have let it get that close.”
In typical Dan Henderson fashion, when asked if he’d take a super fight at heavyweight, he calmly stated,
“I’d consider fighting anybody. As long as I didn’t have to cut too much weight, I’d pretty much fight anybody. I just want to get back in there as soon as possible. I hated the long layoff. I want to fight any one of the top 5 guys and I know I’m capable of beating them. That’ll keep me right up in there. I’ll take any one of them. I could sit here and bitch (about the Machida fight), but it doesn’t help anything. I just want to be active and give the fans what they should have seen the other night.”
Any fighter nearing their mid to late 30’s often hears the whispers from media or fans about when they will decide to retire. Even at 42 years of age, Dan doesn’t plan on slowing down or going anywhere any time soon.
“I wasn’t planning on retiring anyway after 1 or 2 fights. I plan on being there for a couple of more years, at least. I want to get back in there and fight as soon as I can and stay active this year and next year for sure.”
Dan Henderson is one of the last active fighters from a time in MMA where the landscape of the sport was vastly different than it is today. There were no reality TV shows that catapulted you to superstardom and glorified drunken exploits of mid-level fighters. When Dan won his first UFC tournament, the Fertittas didn’t own the UFC, Jose Aldo was 12 years old, and Titanic won the Academy Award for Best Picture. To this day, he is the only man in a top MMA promotion to hold championship belts in two different weight classes concurrently. The accolades associated with his name epitomize the definition of what a living legend is. At 42 years of age it seems that Hendo has finally hit his prime, and that is a terrifying thought for anyone standing across the cage from him.
You can follow Dan on twitter @danhendo or visit his website danhenderson.com