Henderson’s Last Ride?

Dan Henderson at Team Quest

The middleweight showdown between Dan Henderson and Tim Boetch will headline the latest UFC Fight Night card from Louisiana on Saturday evening. Both fighters are coming off losses, but the bigger story here is that Henderson, a legend in the sport, has won only one of his last six fights.

With his 45th birthday right around the corner, could this be the last time we see ‘Hendo’ grace the cage?  

Five years ago, Dan Henderson wins this fight, hands down. However, his recent decline seemingly makes him susceptible to Tim Boetsch’s sprawl and brawl attack. Boetsch, who has found moderate success at middleweight, is a formidable gatekeeper that gives most fighters a run for their money regardless of the outcome.

Boetsch is the bigger fighter who is hard-hitting and durable until he runs out of gas. 185 pounds is a more natural weight class for Henderson, but he historically performs slightly better at 205 pounds. Plus, the Elk eating ‘Barbarian’ is a Division I wrestler who will make it difficult for Henderson to secure a takedown, which normally isn’t a problem for the Olympian.

Henderson’s game plan is no secret because it never changes. The former PRIDE and Strikeforce titleholder will cock back and throw his trademark right hand, otherwise known as the ‘H-bomb.’ If it lands, the fight will end in the blink of an eye…if it lands, which it hasn’t in some time.

Dan Henderson may realize that this is do or die time for him. If so, hopefully, he will mix it up and embrace the wrestling game that helped make him an all-time great instead of neglecting it in favor of his affinity for the one-punch knockout.

As one of the higher paid fighters in the UFC, it’s hard to imagine him remaining on the roster if he loses this one, making it four straight. If Henderson goes down in defeat and the UFC releases him, he will probably sign with Bellator MMA.

That fact could be why the UFC would keep Henderson on payroll with a loss. However, employment options notwithstanding, being finished by Tim Boetsch will be a clear indicator that Henderson’s best days are way behind him.

The MMA faithful will be watching and hoping to be treated to one more night of combative cinema staring Dan Henderson, with his hand raised in the air as the end credits begin to roll. If happily ever after isn’t the ending that fate has in mind, hopefully, Boetsch can build off of the moment going forward. At the same time, Henderson receives the ultimate curtain call of the adulation and respect he so richly deserves.

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