Dan Henderson is getting a shot at the UFC Middleweight Championship this fall, a rematch with Michael Bisping which will likely be his final career fight. There’s been plenty of criticism levied against the matchmaking already, but Henderson this week spoke out about the fact that it wasn’t a fight he asked for nor that he thought he’d actually get.
“There is a broad misconception that I asked for this fight. I did not,” Henderson wrote in a piece penned for Champions.co. “This is a fight that I think Bisping has wanted for a while, but I didn’t ask to fight him. It came about because 1. We fought on the same card with both of us scoring two impressive victories, and 2. The fans have overwhelmingly requested this rematch.
“Right away, after the Lombard fight, people were saying how I should fight Bisping next, but I honestly didn’t think a whole lot about it because I didn’t think it would happen. The more the fans asked for it, the more the UFC started considering it, and it didn’t hurt that he wanted the rematch, as well. Between him and the fans, they actually managed to make it happen.”
Henderson knocked Bisping out back in 2009 at UFC 100 in one of the most re-played highlight reel finishes in the sport’s history. That came at the end of a season of The Ultimate Fighter in which the personalities of the two coaches clashed considerably. Seven years later, Henderson and Bisping still see things quite differently from one another, with Henderson critical of the way Bisping conducts himself as champion.
“I’ve been a world champion before, a few times, and one thing I tried to do was to take it all in stride and not make a big deal out of it,” Henderson said. “You’re the champ and the people in the MMA community know that. When I look at Bisping, he’s doing exactly what you would expect him to do; talk a lot about himself, praise himself and be his own biggest fan.
“Some people like him for just that reason, but I can’t say that I’m a fan of that kind of attitude towards being a champion. Of course, he was expected and prompted to bring as much attention to himself as possible if he got that belt, and I think that’s what he’s been doing. You certainly can’t say he’s not following the plan.
“I don’t really know the guy, so I can’t say that I have any real animosity toward him. He’s an obstacle to be conquered. He’s had a chance to experience the weight of that belt around his waist. Now, it’s time for me to take it away from him.”
Penick’s Analysis: There are a number of current situations in the UFC where questionable fights and/or fighters have been booked, and as with all of those cases the criticism should be directed at the UFC. Of course Henderson’s going to take that fight if it’s offered to him. Of course Bisping wants to avenge a loss against a fighter who isn’t going to be around much longer. Those who wanted to see a different type of fight for Bisping have the UFC and casual fans to blame for this being pushed and coming together. Just like with CM Punk even getting a fight, the criticism is on the UFC for booking it in the first place, not on Punk for taking advantage of an opportunity.
[Photo (c) Derek E. Hingle via USA Today Sports]
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