Henderson on Comeback Trail

Written by Tom Ngo
September 1st, 2008

Just a year ago, Dan Henderson was sitting on top of the MMA world. He was the only fighter to ever simultaneously hold two title belts, the PrideFC 185-pound and 205-pound crowns. In a short 12-month span, Henderson has since lost his last two bouts, as well as both of his titles in the process. Henderson now looks to get his career back on the winning track at the tender age of 38.

After the UFC officially purchased PrideFC nearly two years ago, they brought Henderson and his two titles over to unify the belts. Unfortunately for Henderson, instead of solidifying his status as the king in both divisions, he found himself searching for answers.

“I don’t think anyone else has had as tough a first two fights back in the UFC as I have, and that’s the way I prefer it,” Henderson stated. “I want to fight the best in the world, to test my skills and see how I am. You win some, you lose some—unfortunately, I’ve lost the last two. I’m definitely going out there this fight [with Palhares] to win and take nothing less than winning.”

The Palhares that he is referring to is, Rousimar Palhares, his UFC 88 opponent on September 6th. Palhares may not be too well known amongst UFC fans, however he is quite an accomplished Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter. In fact seven of his eight wins have come via submission, including his only UFC appearance against Ivan Salaverry at UFC 84.

Henderson knows that his back is against the wall, and he intends to come out swinging.

“Well, I think having lost my last two fights, I definitely need to get back in there and win this one for sure,” said Henderson. “I think Wanderlei Silva was in a similar situation, except for he’d lost three in a row. But again, the three that he lost were against three top guys. Then they put him against Jardine and he was kind of with his back to the wall and he went out there and took care of business, so I guess I got to follow his lead.”

Hendo is well aware of his opponents abilities on the ground, so he intends to use his hands to dominate the fight.

“Yeah, that’s pretty much all Palhares has is submissions,” Henderson says. “I try to come up with a game plan not to fight right in the guy’s strengths, so obviously I’m going to be trying to stay up on my feet with him.

“I think this is a good match up for me,” he says. “I’m going to be the guy that’s a lot more dangerous on my feet and it’s somewhere he doesn’t want to be with me. So it’s going to be his task to get me into his world on the ground. I’m not the easiest guy to take down, you know—so the determining factor of the fight is who can defend takedowns, who can get their takedown and if I can knock him out coming in or whatever.”

It seems as though Henderson will apply the “Chuck Liddell method” for his bout. Liddell, like Henderson, comes from a strong wrestling background, however Liddell does not use it for offense. He actually uses his superior wrestling takedown defense to fend opponents off, while trying to knock them out as they come within range to shoot.

“I just see myself knocking him out,” he predicts. “I was pretty pissed at my last performance and I’m probably going to be a little bit pissed when I go out there and fight this guy. I’m ready to do a 15-minute grappling match with him if I have to, but I’m not going to lose.”

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