5 YRS AGO: UFC 139’s Dan Henderson excited to finish career in the UFC; has eyes on a title shot

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch editor-in-chief

Dan Henderson (artist Grant Gould © MMATorch)

Five years ago this week, MMATorch published the following article by Jamie Penick with a 41 year old Dan Henderson talking about his aspirations in UFC shortly after signing with the organization after years of accomplishments outside of UFC.

At the height of his popularity in the UFC, Dan Henderson’s contract expired, and when the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement he went to Strikeforce. Now that he’s back in the organization, ready to headline UFC 139 on Saturday night against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Henderson is looking forward to spending the final chapter of his career back in the UFC.

“I’m going to finish up my career in the UFC and I am excited by it; and the fact the UFC has a huge FOX deal now makes it even more exciting,” Henderson said this week in a media teleconference. “I am not going to worry about my next fight – as far as getting a title shot – I need to win this fight and then the rest will take care of itself. I need to win in the Octagon this weekend first before I talk about what’s next. Shogun is a very dangerous opponent; this is a fight I wanted to happen years ago in PRIDE and he’s a name that will look good on my record.”

At 41 years old, Henderson has put together one of the more impressive runs in his career off of three straight knockout wins. He feels he still has a lot of fight left in him, and is looking forward to the challenges “Shogun” presents.

“I am 41 and feel great. I’m not putting a time limit on anything,” Henderson said of the remainder of his career. “I think I can put a game plan together to beat anyone out there. I am aggressive throughout the whole fight and always trying to finish a fight, although Shogun is very good and well-rounded so that will be a challenge to do.”

“I am going to try to out strike Shogun. I am going to try to beat him in every aspect of MMA. I guess I could get knocked out like anyone can get knocked out, but I’ve been lucky enough not to get hit on the button yet. But, him saying he’s going to be the first man to knock me out, good luck to him on that one.”

This is a big return fight for Henderson, and though he’s geared up for this particular fight, his eyes are still set on a bigger things in the organization now that’s returned.

“I’m happy with the form I am in, where I am in my career, and I’m confident,” He said. This is going to be a big night for me.”

“I think it is fair to say I’ve accomplished a lot in the sport, but one thing I have not accomplished is winning the UFC title. I like to set goals and that’s a big one: winning the UFC title.”

Penick’s Analysis: This is a really big fight for Henderson, and a chance for him to get right into a title fight at either light heavyweight or middleweight. He is in the midst of one of his best career runs, and this is likely his last opportunity to get himself to a title shot. If he can pull off a great performance against Rua on Saturday night, it will cap off one hell of a year, and begin his 2012 with a title shot on the horizon.



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