MMA-Freak of the Week: Dan Henderson

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Dan Henderson

Pic by by SHERDOG.COM -click for source- Credit: Dave Mandel

It’s that time again for the MMA-Freak of the Week, and this week’s selection by you the fans, is a special one. The winner is a living legend and has a big match this weekend at UFC 157 with Lyoto Machida.

The winner is………..

~ Dan Henderson ~

Daniel Jeffery Henderson (29-8 MMA) is a future hall-of-famer with some of the (if not the) heaviest hands in all of MMA.  “Hendo” is a former Olympic wrestler, the last Strikeforce light heavyweight champion, and was the last welterweight 183 lb and middleweight 205 lb champion of Pride fighting championships. He is the only mixed martial artist to concurrently hold two titles in two different weight classes in a major MMA promotion.

Dan Henderson was the former number one contender for the light heavyweight championship before getting injured. The injury resulted in the cancellation of UFC 151. Henderson was expected to face Lyoto Machida at UFC 156, but the fight has now been moved to UFC 157 on February 23, 2013 in order to help hype-up the events’ fight card.

~ MMA Accomplishments ~

  • Ultimate Fighting Championship
    • UFC 17 Middleweight Tournament Winner
    • Fight of the Night (Two times)
    • Knockout of the Night (One time)
    • 2011 Fight of the Year vs. Maurício Rua on November 19
    • 2009 Knockout of the Year vs. Michael Bisping on July 11
  • Pride Fighting Championships
    • Pride Middleweight Championship (One time; Last)
    • Pride Welterweight Championship (One time; First; Last)
    • 2005 Pride Welterweight Grand Prix Champion
    • First combatant to win Pride championships in multiple weight classes
    • First combatant to simultaneously hold multiple Pride championships
  • Strikeforce
    • Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Championship (One time, Last)
    • Oldest combatant to win a Strikeforce championship (40 years, 194 days)
  • Fighting Network RINGS
    • RINGS King of Kings 1999 Tournament Winner
  • Brazil Open Fight
    • Brazil Open 1997 Lightweight Tournament Winner
  • World MMA Awards
    • 2009 Knockout of the Year vs. Michael Bisping on July 11
  • ESPN
    • 2011 Fight of the Year vs. Maurício Rua on November 19
    • 2011 Round of the Year vs. Maurício Rua on November 19; Round 1
  • Inside MMA
    • 2011 Fight of the Year Bazzie Award vs. Maurício Rua on November 19
  • Wrestling Observer Newsletter
    • 2011 Fight of the Year vs. Maurício Rua on November 19
  • MMAFighting
    • 2011 Fight of the Year vs. Maurício Rua on November 19
  • Yahoo! Sports
    • 2011 Fight of the Year vs. Maurício Rua on November 19
  • MiddleEasy
    • 2011 Frate Trane of the Year
  • Inside Fights
    • 2009 Knockout of the Year vs. Michael Bisping on July 11
  • FIGHT! Magazine
    • 2009 Knockout of the Year vs. Michael Bisping on July 11
  • Bleacher Report
    • 2009 Knockout of the Year vs. Michael Bisping on July 11
  • Black Belt Magazine
    • 2007 MMA Fighter of the Year

~ Honorable Mention Losses ~

Dan Henderson has fought in Pride, the UFC, and Strikeforce. He has fought more big names than anybody in all MMA, but sometimes you don’t end up in the winning column when facing such odds, and Hendo is no exception. Henderson’s first loss in his career was a grueling battle at Pride 12 when Wanderlei Silva defeated him via unanimous decision.

Hendo won three in a row before suffering two straight losses to Ricardo Arona and Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira (no wins in 2002). From there, “Hendo” won four in a row before suffering his second straight loss to Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira via armbar (again).

Dan won four more in a row before losing again. He had back-to-back fights with Kazuo Misaki, winning the first and losing the second (both fights went to decision).

Henderson’s last loss came at the hands of Jake Shields at 185 lbs in 2010 at a Strikeforce event. He dropped Shields early, but was then out wrestled for four rounds. That loss really shocked me, I still can’t believe that actually happened.

~ Worst Dan Henderson Loss ~

When Dan Henderson entered the UFC, he had both the Pride middleweight and Pride welterweight championships. He was considered by some to be the best and he came to the UFC to prove it, but was unsuccessful.

Henderson fought Rampage Jackson at UFC 75 for UFC light-heavyweight championship & Pride middleweight championship. Henderson entered the UFC with a ton of hype, but that was also when it was the Rampage era inside the octagon, unfortunately for him.

The fight was an interesting battle, but Rampage’s strength and power was too much for “Hendo” (as far as the judges saw it). It was a scramble match that ended up with back and forth clinch battles, usually won by Jackson.

Hendo was able to get Rampage down early and actually had Jackson in a crucifix position for a few seconds. I had Hendo winning the first two rounds. Hendo even had Jackson caught in a kimura in the third round and almost finished it, but was unsuccessful.

I have to mention this fight because still to this day I had Hendo up on my scorecards. I gave him the first three rounds, and the fifth could have went either way. We all know though that it is hard to win the title via the judges scorecards, especially when you just came in from another organization.

Six months later “Hendo” was back. This time to face the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Anderson Silva. The two battled for the UFC middleweight & Pride welterweight championship. The fight ended up with fight of the night honors.

This has to be his worst loss do to two facts: Hendo won the first round dominantly before getting tapped in the second via rear-naked choke, and this was the first time Henderson was tapped out since losing to Anderson Silva’s BJJ training partner Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira in 2005.

~ Honorable Mention Wins ~

This is so hard! Where do I begin? Dan Henderson is one of my favorite fighters and has some of the best highlight fights/KO’s. So, I’m just going to break this down the easy way:

Best Fights: Go back to UFC 17 and watch it again when Carlos Newton and Hendo fought to a split decision in the middleweight tournament final. Hendo already beat Allan Goes earlier that night before beating Newton and winning the UFC 17 middleweight tournament.

King of Kings Tournament 1999: Hendo beat Bakouri Gogitidze and Hiromitsu Kanehara in one night in 1999. Then in 2000, he continued the tournament by defeating Gilbert Yvel, Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, and Renato Sobral winning the Rings King of Kings 1999 tournament. After all this is when he made his Pride debut and lost for the first time in his MMA career, losing to Wanderlei Silva.

His best fight has to be his last one at UFC 139 against Maurício “Shogun” Rua. The two went back and forth in the UFC’s first non-title five round fight, and did not let the fans down. I still think this fight might be one, if not the best fight the UFC has ever seen.

~ Best Finishes ~

Technical submission (guillotine choke) on Eric Smith 30 seconds of the first round at the Brazil Open ’97.

Pride 13- Ko of Renzo Gracie 1st round

Pride 25- TKO 1st round of Shungo Oyama

Pride Final Conflict 2003- TKO Murilo Bustamante 1st round-Pride 2003 middleweight grand prix reserve bout

Pride Bushido 9- Two fights in one night. Both 1st round knock outs: Ryo Chonan, and Akihiro Gono.

Pride 33- Knocked out Wanderlei Silva (in their rematch)in the third round. Hendo won the Pride middleweight championship.

Strikeforce: St. Louis- Knock out Renato Sobral in the 1st round in a Strikeforce light heavyweight title eliminator.

Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson- Hendo was hit hard ealry, but recovered to get the third round TKO and won the  Strikeforce light heavyweight championship, which he later vacated.

~ Best Hendo Win(s)/KO’s ~

This was a no-brainer for me, but there are two. When everyone doubted Dan Henderson and he stepped up to the heavyweight plate to take on Fedor in 2011, I was worried that the “H-Bomb” wasn’t going to be enough to stop Emelianenko.

Not only was I wrong, but very impressed. Fedor hit “Hendo” with a shot early, but Fedor was able to recover with a great reversal. He then took Fedor’s back and threw a dangerous shot underneath the right arm of Fedor as he was trying to stand up.

The shot landed hard, Fedor’s face hit the mat, and Henderson gave Fedor his third straight loss, ending his Strikeforce career.

Can you say UFC 100? This set up one of the most anticipated fight of mine since becoming an MMA fan. This is also when we saw Bisping’s true colors come out.

The two fighters were coaches on TUF 9 ( Team USA vs. Team UK) and squared off against one another as the third fight on the card behind two title fights. UFC 100 was promoted heavily and I still think this fight/KO stole the show.

Bisping talked so much smack about the US, that all of us true Americans wanted to see The Count get Knocked the “F” out. Not only did we get our wish, but Hendo had other animosity against Bisping for things he said on the show, that when Bisping was falling to the ground, Henderson followed him down with the true epitome of the phrase “H-Bomb.”

If you have never seen this KO, you have no idea what you are missing. I jumped out of my seat so fast when it happened, that I slipped and gave my self a rug burn on my knee. Whenever I look at it, it reminds me of the best KO in UFC history. There was so much heat going into this fight, that’s why I think it meant so much to me and the UFC fans. The fight won knockout of the night and knockout of the year (2009).

Watch Dan Henderson’s highlights in the fun fan made video below.

I love how you the fans keep giving me awesome fighters to write about, and I hope you all enjoy my work.

Make sure to get your picks in for next week’s Freak of the Week:

Vote 1: Jon Fitch

Vote 2: Frank Mir

Vote 3: Royce Gracie


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Ben McPhee (have 315 posts in total)
Ben McPhee was born and raised in Prescott Valley Arizona as the oldest of two kids. He spends all his time being an awesome husband, father and lover of mma/wrestling. He has been writing for over 10 years beginning with poetry and progressing all the way to screenwriting with two screenplays copyrighted. He is the badass Host of MMAFreak Radio and SR. Writer for the site. He also is a huge advocator of wrestling and also hosts The Monday RAW Recap.