It was a great great great great fight. A really great fight.
Dan Henderson defeated Mauricio Shogun Rua by unanimous decision to put himself in the title picture at both light heavyweight and middleweight. Henderson was the stronger of the two in the early rounds and caught Shogun with some big shots – and as early as the second round Shogun’s face was a swollen bloody mess. Henderson continued to dominate a clearly cream crackered Shogun in the third, and dropped him with a huge right hand (the weapon he ridiculously calls the ‘H-bomb’).
The crowd, who’d been booing earlier fights, continued their annoying behaviour by chanting ‘USA! USA!’ in support of Henderson – so it was hard not to root for the Brazilian Rua. The fourth round saw Henderson begin to tire and Shogun to take advantage. The two traded blows and submission attempts in a superbly competitive round, of which Shogun got the better.
Shogun took Henderson down in the fifth and spent most of the round in full mount trying to end the fight. Henderson was gassed but had enough strength to defend every strike and submission attempt to get to the end of a truly great fight.
It was going to be incredibly close. Henderson won the first three rounds, but Rua dominated the last two, and the judges could’ve scored the last round a 10-8 round in favour of Shogun. But they didn’t – and Henderson got the unanimous decision (48-47 on all three cards).
Interviewed afterwards, Henderson believed he won the first three rounds convincingly enough to take the fight, but paid tribute to Shogun’s ability to take a punch and said it very well could’ve been the toughest fight of his career.
UFC president Dana White scored it a draw and said that it was easily one of the top three MMA fights of all-time. The fight was awarded ‘Fight of the Night’ honours along with Silva v Le – but really Henderson v Shogun was so far above most fights it should have its own special category.
By Peter Simpson