They say styles make fights in Mixed Martial Arts. I like to think that stories make fights, too. Last night, Dan Henderson and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua engaged in a rematch from their 2011 War of Attrition, which is considered one of the greatest fights of all time. This time, instead of a wild brawl, we were treated to a tactical affair that produced a different type of excitement that kept fans on the edge of their seat.
Besides the result, everything was in reverse. It was Shogun who had home-field advantage and was coming off an impressive knockout win. He found his range early and controlled where the fight took place, all while taking advantage of Dan Henderson’s biggest weakness. His infatuation with the overhand right.
We assumed Henderson learned from his three consecutive losses and would throw combinations to set up his dreaded H-Bomb. He didn’t, and Shogun saw it coming a mile away and mixed it up with low kicks until he put Henderson down in the first round with a right and left and landed four more on the ground before time expired.
Henderson was saved by the bell and glossy-eyed as he rose to his feet. Coming out for the second round, he didn’t look any better. Rua worked him over with more low kicks, which made Henderson’s only takedown attempt a futile gesture.
The former Olympian was tired and easy pickings for an uppercut that put him down hard for the second time in the bout. Rua controlled Henderson on the ground and picked him apart with jabs to end the second frame. Henderson rose to his feet and went to his corner with the same dazed look he had the round before.
Personally, I thought he was done.
Herb Dean signaled for the third round to commence, and it looked as if Henderson had some semblance of a second wind. Still, it was the same old song and dance as he kept missing with that right. Shogun picked away at him with the jabs and leg kicks. Henderson shoots in for another desperation takedown, Shogun stuffs it but gets dropped by a blood-splattering right hand to the nose. Henderson went in for the kill and pounded on Shogun until Dean stepped in to stop the fight. Henderson rose to a shocking comeback victory while Shogun fell in defeat to a badly broken nose.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the stigma that will always surround Dan Henderson to a certain extent. He is the last fighter that will ever be granted a TRT exemption by the Brazilian commission as they’ve banned all exemptions going forward. Still, no matter how old he gets or how much speed and explosiveness he loses, Dan Henderson will always be one punch away from victory with a lucky rabbit’s foot of an overhand right.