In early June, aging Pride legend Dan Henderson scored a career-revivifying knockout win over former Bellator champ Hector Lombard. Later that same night, England’s Michael Bisping won the UFC middleweight title with a shocking knockout defeat of Luke Rockhold.
Under normal circumstances, the first shot at Bisping’s title would have gone to a streaking contender like Yoel Romero or Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza, or a former champion like Chris Weidman or Rockhold. Instead, however, the next shot was awarded to Henderson, based solely on the fact that he knocked Bisping silly in 2009, and that Bisping wanted a shot at revenge before Henderson hung up the gloves.
In the buildup to this strange middleweight title fight, which is scheduled for UFC 204 in Manchester, England on October 8, the 46-year-old Henderson has repeatedly assured that he’ll retire after the fight. Even if he springs the upset on the younger, faster champion, he’s said he plans on riding off into the sunset, forcing the UFC to crown a new middleweight champion for the vacant title.
In a twist that should surprise very few people, however, Henderson’s tune appears to be changing. While he hasn’t said he wants to keep fighting outright, he recently suggested that if the money is right, he’d consider sticking around. He must have gotten wind of Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz’s UFC 202 paydays.
“I’m sure with a few extra zeros back there I would consider coming back,” Henderson recently said in a interview with Champions.co.
The MMA legend later re-upped on this statement when he shared this interview on Twitter.
I’m serious about my decision to retire, but adding a few zeros could possibly change my mind.https://t.co/Gog6lsCyHo
— Dan Henderson (@danhendo) September 20, 2016
Later in this interview, however, Henderson did back-track a bit, saying that he was ready to retire after his win over Lombard, and that the road could very well end with the Bisping fight.
“At the same time, I was ready to be done [in] my last fight,” Henderson said. “With the opportunity to finish with a belt and be the world champ at the end of my career, I couldn’t say no to that. When they offered me that, I told them that this will be my last one for sure, win or lose.”
While Dan Henderson has long stood out as one of the most exciting fighters in the game, it probably is time for him to retire. He is, after all, a tough 4-6 in his last 10, with three knockout losses in that stretch. The UFC would probably be wise to let the legend hang up the gloves, rather than reel him back in with the promise of a pay boost.
Do you think Henderson wins the UFC middleweight title at UFC 204? And if he does, will he still retire as planned? Sound off, PENN nation!