Of course, Dan Henderson is a legendary figure of the sport. He’s beaten a laundry list of elite fighters in Pride, The UFC, and Strikeforce. Over his career, Henderson has proven himself to be an amazingly dynamic and versatile fighter. He’s competed and held key wins over opponents at middleweight, light heavyweight, and heavyweight. Even more impressive, he managed to hold the 185 pound and 205 pound Pride belts simultaneously. He is now 42 years old, but that hasn’t slowed him a bit. Henderson was set to square off with Jon Jones at UFC 151, but ultimately a knee injury led to the fight being cancelled all together. He’s now only one win away (Lyoto Machida) from another crack at UFC gold.
Number 5. Dan Henderson vs. Renzo Gracie at Pride 13 March 25, 2001:
In 2001 Dan’s skills were still flying a little under the radar. He had just got into Pride, and he lost his debut to Wanderlei Silva. In order to show his true value to the organization, Dan needed a win over a big name, and that’s exactly what he did. The fight wasn’t long, only 1:40 to be exact, but Dan really showcased a lot in that short amount of time. He demonstrated a flawless sprawl and a solid KO. What more can you ask for?
Number 4. Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping at UFC 100 July 11, 2009:
Since his return to The UFC in 2007, Henderson had put back to back wins together in the form of Rousimar Palhares and Rich Franklin respectively, and he was knocking on the door for a rematch with Anderson Silva. In his way was British sensation Michael Bisping. The two met at UFC 100 for number 1 contender status, and Henderson came through with another huge KO win. Though Dan won, he and The UFC came into contractual disagreements which resulted in his exit from The UFC shortly after.
Number 3. Dan Henderson vs. Wanderlei Silva at Pride 33 February 24, 2007:
This was Hendo’s last fight in Pride, and he’d already lost to Wanderlei once back in 2000, so the stakes couldn’t have been higher. The fight was for the Pride middleweight belt, a division which Silva had owned in the past. The fight had it’s ups and downs, but again Dan’s ability to deliver power shots when he need them most gave him another fantastic highlight reel KO over a true MMA legend. Sadly for Dan, this was a belt he was never able to defend. He lost it to Quinton Jackson at UFC 75.
Number 2. Dan Henderson vs. Fedor Emelianenko at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson July 30, 2011:
While nearly all of Fedor’s hype and steam had subsided following his back-to-back losses against Fabricio Wedum and Antonio Silva, Henderson made a ballsy move and went up to heavyweight to face the guy many people considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world less than two years prior to this fight. That night Dan did what no one else has ever done; He stopped Fedor via a true TKO. Antonio Silva’s TKO was a doctor stoppage. I don’t intend to take anything away from Silva’s win, but doctor stoppages and true TKOs/KOs are two different things.
Number 1. Dan Henderson vs Shogun Rua at UFC 139 November 19, 2011:
Dan Henderson was 41 years old when this fight took place, and I for one really doubted his ability to compete with younger guys. See his loss to Jake Shields for reference. Rua, 11 years his younger, had just lost the belt to Jon Jones, and took out his frustrations by a night ending KO of Forrest Griffin. To me, Shogun seemed more motivated than ever going into this fight. Dan came out early and smashed Rua for the first two, and arguable the three, rounds. The bout was a 5 round non-championship fight, as it was basically a number 1 contender’s match. Henderson went on to win a very close but well deserved unanimous decision victory over Rua thus proving him to be relevant despite his age. The fight also was awarded fight of the year for 2011.