By Adam Conklin:
Just minutes after Jon Jones defeated Rashad Evans to retain his light heavyweight belt, 41-year old Dan Henderson was announced as the next person to challenge the 24-year old phenom for his title. Henderson (29-8) will be coming off his latest victory and fight of the year performance against Mauricio Rua back in November with plenty of momentum behind him after winning the Strikeforce title and knocking out Fedor Emelianenko before he rejoined the UFC ranks. But is this MMA veteran the kryptonite to Jon’s superhuman title reign?
First, lets take a look at what Hendo has to offer. He is an olympic wrestler with incredible strength and indelible will who will no doubt push the pace against Jones. Whether or not he can take Jones down is one thing, but I wouldn’t put it past Hendo to find the willpower and strength to take Jones down sometime in the fight.
Next, he has an incredible chin spanning over ten years of MMA competition. He showed off his granite skull against Rua who battered Hendo (and was battered himself), as he stalked Rua earning a unanimous decision win. When fighting Jones, I highly doubt that Jones will be able to finish Dan with punches as Henderson never really seems to be out of a fight.
Lastly, his right hand. Everyone knows its there, no one can stop it. Jon Jones will surely train for it but whether or not he can stop it is another story entirely. Even though Jones has the reach advantage like he does in all his fights, Hendo always seems to find a way to sneak it in their with devastating effect.
Whether he deserves this title shot or not, there really isn’t another worthy competitor right now in the division besides Alexander Gustafsson who still needs a real test in the division before he can be considered a top contender. Henderson has been here before and will know what to do against Jones. This might not lead to a win but it will surely lead to another classic Hendo fight.
If Hendo is to lose, then a decision can probably be blamed on the reach disadvantage while a submission would almost be expected as his ultimate demise. He will not stop fighting which will make either himself, or Jones susceptible to getting finished, and his submission defense is great, but not against the likes of the Nogueiras and Anderson Silva who are at the highest levels of the jiu-jitsu game. A level that Jones is either at or will be come fight night.
This is a dangerous fight for Hendo to take especially if he wants to keep his win streak alive. However, at 41 he has nothing to lose and because he’s fighting for a title that he has sought after his whole career, he will not go lightly into defeat.