We here at the Jiu-Jitsu Times would have loved to report that Dan “Hendo” Henderson, at 46 years old, finally won the UFC middleweight championship after a hard-fought battle in enemy territory.
Unfortunately, that’s not what the Fates planned for the legendary and probably future hall-of-famer.
But he came close.
In tonight’s main event at UFC 204, Henderson took on Middleweight Champion “The Count” Michael Bisping. For Henderson, it was his last shot for the title. For Bisping, it was a chance to redeem himself for an embarrassing knockout loss – one that had been parodied in numerous memes – in front of his countrymen and women in Manchester, England.
Both fighters started out cautiously. Henderson moved around the perimeter of the cage, preserving his energy and waiting to drop his feared “H-bomb” – i.e., right-hand punch. Bisping held the center, landing some combinations but also staying patient.
Towards the end of the round, Henderson landed that dreaded H-bomb, knocking The Count to the canvas and swarming all over him with punches and elbows. Bisping struggled up, bleeding under his eye, but smiling as the round drew to a close.
Round 2 was similar, only this time, Bisping landed a huge body shot that rocked his much older opponent. But just when American fans feared the fight could have ended there, Henderson landed another H-bomb, and again put Bisping on the canvas. The Count, however, was able to weather the storm by tying Hendo up on the ground, preventing the challenger from causing any further damage.
In the third round, Henderson continued to stay patient, running from Bisping and waiting to drop another H-bomb. Bisping, for his part, kept coming in with combinations, but neither side caused any major damage.
As the fight went into the championship rounds, fans saw a more aggressive Dan Henderson. Rather than staying patient and waiting for the perfect opportunity for a knockout, Hendo charged in with some punch-and-kick combinations of his own. In round 4, the champion hit Dan with a groin shot, and once again displayed his penchant for trash-talking, accusing Henderson of milking his time.
The fight continued, however, and though Henderson landed a takedown in round 5, it just wasn’t enough to secure a victory. Michael Bisping retained the UFC middleweight strap via a unanimous decision in front of an overjoyed British crowd.
Despite all of the insults and taunts before, The Count had nothing but respect for his opponent, calling him a legend and later pointing to the mouse under his eye and saying “look what this man can do!”
Unfortunately, Bisping did not treat the rest of the middleweight division with the same respect, pointing out their losing performances and drug offenses.
When color commentator Brian Stann gave the microphone to Henderson, the 32-15 star told fans everywhere that tonight would be the last time anyone would see him fight live. British fans, who had originally booed him in favor of their hometown hero, showed Hendo the respect he deserved by cheering for him, and Michael Bisping shook his hand.
We here at the Jiu-Jitsu Times would like to do the same. Anyone who has ever tried MMA knows that it is a young person’s sport. For a man nearing dangerously close to fifty to go five rounds against the champion of one of the biggest divisions in the mixed martial arts world’s top promotion – that man is a beast, a legend, and an easy contender for the coveted title of GOAT.
Thank you so much for the memories, Dan Henderson, and we wish you nothing but the best in the future!