Former PrideFC 185 and 205-pound champion Dan Henderson is in for the fight of his career against Rich Franklin this Saturday at UFC 93. The 38-year-old veteran has lost two of his first three Octagon bouts, and openly admitted that he was unimpressive in his win over Rousimar Palhares at UFC 88.
“I need to beat Rich Franklin…” states a determined Henderson. “I’ve got a couple good years left in me, so hopefully I’ll get a title fight before then.”
Being that he is the only man ever to simultaneously hold titles in two different weight classes, there isn’t much that Henderson needs to prove at this point in time. However, he still feels that he can challenge for a UFC title, and defeating a fighter of Franklin’s caliber would certainly help him in that pursuit.
“He seems to be right up there,” says Henderson of Franklin’s abilities. “He can throw some good straight punches, and he’s got some good looping overhands and hooks too. He looks like he’s got some power; he’s knocked some guys out. He’s obviously not as skilled on his feet as Anderson Silva, but I think he’s right up there, very dangerous on his feet.”
Although both fighters have proved to possess knockout power, don’t be surprised if Henderson decides to take this fight to the mat, where he feels he will hold a significant advantage.
“He’s not going to outwrestle me, but this isn’t a wrestling match,” Henderson proclaimed. “It’s a matter of putting everything together. It’s a matter of putting your strikes in with your wrestling and using one to set up the other.”
According to Henderson, this fight can go in many directions, including the distance. However he feels that if it were to end early, it would be his superior skills that would dictate that.
“There’s a good chance of it being a decision,” he predicts. “I think I’ve got a better chance of stopping him – from track records, I’m talking about – than he does of stopping me. Cause he’s not going to submit me, and I’m not gonna get knocked out.”
A dominating win over Franklin could very well put Henderson’s name in the conversation for title contention. Currently, the UFC’s crown jewel division, and arguably its deepest, has one of the foggiest title paths.
“I think it’s probably even more mucked up than ever,” Henderson says of the 205-pound title picture. “Forrest beat Quinton, and Rashad beat Forrest, and Quinton just beat Wanderlei. There’s a ton of fights out there before you even get to a title fight. It’s not one guy that beat a bunch of other guys and is sitting in the number two spot because he lost, (and you) beat him and get a title shot. That’s not the way it is now.”
And that is exactly what Henderson is banking on.