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Dan Henderson: H-Bombs Away

“He hasn’t fought anyone like me before.”It sounds almost too simple to say that there‘s no comparison, but there‘s simply no substitute for Dan Henderson. As a background, Henderson‘s athletic expertise wasn‘t just as a top high school or NCAA Division I wrestler, but as a two-time Olympian in Greco-Roman wrestling who for a decade won a slew of international medals, including ones of the gold, silver, and bronze variety at the Pan American Games. As a fighter, Henderson has spent the past 15 years defeating a who‘s who list en route to winning championship belts and tournaments in the UFC, Strikeforce, and PRIDE, while developing a near mythical aura around his most infamous weapon: his right hand. Although all UFC light heavyweights wield potential knockout power, there‘s only one “H-bomb” and only one “Hendo”. “It’s hard for anyone to compare any other fight he has had to my fight with him,” states Henderson. “I hit hard, I’m a good wrestler, and I‘m a good Greco guy. He’s going to know he’s never fought anyone like me.”At 42 years old, the Californian once known as “Hollywood” and “Dangerous Dan” is preparing to enter another big fight with title shot implications and it‘s against another seemingly impossible-to-replicate opponent: Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida. While many will easily ascribe uniqueness to Machida‘s elusiveness and heavily karate-influenced attack; Henderson‘s mix of Olympic wrestling pedigree, heavy hands, granite chin, and unparalleled experience is just as rare. Plus, “Hendo” has mastered this skill set of power, durability, and an overall awareness of how to hurt his opponent wherever the situation.“Typically, what I do is I like to control,” explains Henderson. “I like to mix it up in there with my wrestling and throwing hard strikes. It’s mostly about conditioning and positioning. It’s about getting into the right position to be able to strike and mount an offense. I feel like I have a well-rounded style and I feel like I’ve gotten better at it. Some matches I want to spend more time on my feet and some matches I want to spend more time on the ground. It all depends on who I’m fighting.”In Henderson‘s last fight, fans got to see more than anyone could have ever expected – including the fighters themselves – unless they literally expected it to be one of the single greatest fights in history. At UFC 139 in November 2011, in a non-title, five round main event, “Hendo” squared off with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in a once in a lifetime MMA war. Both former PRIDE superstars fought with unbridled determination in a back-and-forth slugfest like King Kong vs. Godzilla or Nada vs. Frank in “They Live.” “I was there to fight,” asserts Henderson. “I had seen him fight over the years and thought he was tough and well-rounded. I knew it was going to be a tough fight, but I thought that I was going to be able to stop him. At one point in the fight, I would be able to break him. He obviously showed a lot of heart, kept going, and made it to be a great fight. It was quite a bit of action. Maybe a bit more action than I expected. I tried to finish him in the third. I used up quite a bit of energy there and got tired in the fourth and got stuck on bottom in the fifth. At that point, I figured I had the fight won. I was still trying to get up, but it wasn’t the way it was going. I don’t know if I expected that type of fight. I didn’t expect him to take as many shots as I put on him.”As the scrap started, it didn‘t appear to be destined for a decision when Henderson dropped the hammer on Rua early and often. 30 seconds into the bout, he clocked Shogun with a short right that dropped the Brazilian and started the crimson pumping. By the end of the first minute, Rua‘s been dropped, pummeled against the cage, and forced to deal with a front choke. About 20 seconds later, Henderson clipped Rua with another straight right that made Rua land on his knees while looking for a desperate takedown. Some narrow-mindedly describe the “H-bomb” as Henderson‘s overhand right, but it‘s really just about any of his right‘s that tags his opponent. “It’s always nice to have that happen, especially early into a fight,” says Henderson. “It sets the tone. Maybe he doesn’t want to stand and trade with you because of that. Makes him a little more defensive. If he is more defensive then he’s not charging and throwing punches. It’s always better starting out punching the other guy pretty good. One of the first punches I threw knocked him a little silly and cut him open.”In the second round, the “H-bomb” was an uppercut and some serious body shots too. But without a doubt, the archetypal “H-bomb” landed in the third round. It‘s the familiar inside low kick with the left leg followed immediately with the flash and bang of the overhand right, which ended Michael Bisping‘s night at UFC 100 and will forever grace UFC hi…

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