Mixed martial arts legend Dan Henderson retired from the sport this past Saturday in Manchester following his controversial decision loss to Michael Bisping in the main event of UFC 204.
In the above tribute video (created by BrattMamley MMA), we take a look back at some of the greatest fights and finishes of Dan Henderson’s legendary MMA career.
Dan Henderson burst on to the mixed martial arts scene in June of 1997 scoring a TKO victory over Crezio de Souza in his first professional bout at the Brazil Open ’97 event. His second fight would take place later that same evening and resulted in “Hendo” winning the Brazil Open ’97 lightweight tournament after submitting Eric Smith with a standing guillotine just 30-seconds in to their scrap.
Henderson would make his octagon debut in his third professional fight at the UFC 17 middleweight tournament in May of 1998. In the semi-finals “Hendo” would scored a unanimous decision victory over Allan Goes thus advancing to the tournament final. In the finals, Henderson took on Carlos Newton and was awarded a close split-decision victory to become the middleweight tournament champion.
“Hendo” would go on to win his next five fights, including a split-decision over Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira, this while fighting under the “Rings” banner in Japan.
Dan then took his talents to PRIDE where he suffered his first career defeat at the hands and feet of Wanderlei Silva who defeated “Hendo” via decision at the PRIDE 12 event in December of 2000.
Henderson would fight many battles under the PRIDE banner before eventually taking on Murilo Bustamante for the promotions welterweight title at the PRIDE Shockwave event in 2005. “Hendo” defeated Bustamante via split-decision that evening in Japan and was thus crowned the PRIDE welterweight champion.
At the PRIDE 33 event in February 2007, Henderson would get a chance to make MMA history and exact some personal revenge when he once again squared off with Wanderlei Silva, this time for the promotions middleweight championship.
After a back and forth war, Henderson would eventually catch “The Axe Murderer” with a nasty left hook that sent Silva crashing to the canvas. With the knockout victory, Dan Henderson became the first man in PRIDE history to hold two titles in two weight classes simultaneously.
Following his victory over Wanderlei, Henderson returned to the UFC where he squared off with Quinton Jackson for the promotions light heavyweight title at UFC 75 in 2007. “Rampage” ended up defeating Henderson via decision that evening in London.
“Hendo’s” next bout would take place at UFC 82 where he took on Anderson Silva for the UFC middleweight title. Unfortunately for Henderson, “The Spider” was able to catch him in a rear-naked choke submission which forced the knockout artist to tapout.
Henderson would fight three more times under the UFC banner before making his move to Strikeforce. He scored decision victories over Rousimar Palhares and Rich Franklin, and his infamous knockout of Michael Bisping in those three contests.
After defeating Renato Sobral via knockout at the Strikeforce: St. Louis event in 2010, “Hendo” would be awarded a light heavyweight title shot against Rafael Cavalcante. Henderson would score a third-round TKO victory over Cavalcante in their championship bout thus earning the promotions 205-pound strap.
Henderson’s next bout would be a non-title affair against fellow MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko. “Hendo” once again was able to showcase his brutal knockout power scoring a first-round TKO victory over “The Last Emperor”.
Following his bout with Fedor, Dan would return to the UFC where he had what many believe to be the “greatest fight of all-time” with Maurício Rua at UFC 139. After five-rounds of heart-stopping action, Henderson was awarded with the decision win from the judges in San Jose.
Henderson would go 1-5 in his next six octagon appearances, leading many to believe his career was all but over. However, Henderson was able to turn back the clock and score devastating knockout wins over Tim Boetsch and Hector Lombard in two of his next three outings which earned the 46-year-old a crack at UFC middleweight champion and bitter rival Michael Bisping.
As we all know, the rematch between Henderson and Bisping ended up in favor of “The Count” after a razor close judges decision. However, “Hendo” was able to deliver fight fans another jaw-dropping performance at UFC 204 and will forever be remembered for his illustrious career and legendary right hand.
What was your favorite “Hendo” moment? Sound off PENN Nation!