Henderson: ‘Spider’ Rematch Only Fight I Want at Middleweight


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Dan Henderson has been saying it for years: He does not enjoy fighting at middleweight.

The former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion is currently focused on his return to the UFC against Mauricio Rua in the main event of UFC 139 on Nov. 19. However, the decorated veteran admits that there is one enticing fight out there that could lure him into another rodeo at 185 pounds.

“There’s only one fight I’d probably want at middleweight, and that’s Anderson Silva,” Henderson (Pictured, file photo) said during Tuesday’s UFC 139 press conference in San Jose, Calif. “I'm not fond of cutting weight at this point.”

Though the fight with Silva was apparently discussed for Henderson’s first bout back in the Octagon, the conversation was halted when it was learned the Brazilian had suffered a shoulder injury in his most recent title defense against Yushin Okami.

“[Silva] was hurt in that fight [at UFC 134]. He’s got bursitis in his shoulder, so the doctor told him to lay off for eight weeks,” said UFC President Dana White, dismissing the idea that Silva was avoiding a rematch with Henderson. “Anderson Silva has fought everybody. It’s not like he’s ducking fights. He’s never ducked a fight. If [Henderson’s bout with Rua] goes right and Dan wants to cut that weight, then we can talk about Anderson Silva.”

A former two-division titleholder in Pride Fighting Championships, Henderson was defeated by “The Spider” in 2008. Following three more wins in the Octagon, Henderson departed for Strikeforce after contract negotiations stalled with the UFC in 2009.

Henderson’s last appearance at middleweight came in his April 2010 Strikeforce debut, when he faced then-champion Jake Shields for the 185-pound title. After cutting 19 pounds in less than 24 hours due to issues with prescribed medication leading up to the bout, “Hendo” was noticeably drained in the contest.

Though he nearly finished the fight early in the first frame after dropping Shields with a signature overhand right, the 41-year-old could not seal the deal. Instead, the resilient Shields survived and won rounds two through five, taking Henderson down and dominating him with superior ground work.

Returning to light heavyweight, Henderson responded by running through three consecutive opponents, knocking out Renato Sobral in December and then relieving Rafael Cavalcante of his consciousness three months later to win the Strikeforce 205-pound title. Most recently, the heavy-handed American fought at heavyweight, putting away longtime Pride champion Fedor Emelianenko in just over four minutes.

With few intriguing challengers looming on the horizon in Strikeforce, Henderson found himself negotiating his way back into the UFC.

“Every time I win a title somewhere, Dana has to buy the company to get me back,” Henderson joked, referring to Zuffa, LLC’s purchases of Pride and Strikeforce. “The best matchups for me are in the UFC. ... I felt like I fought some of the tougher guys in Strikeforce, [ending with] my last one with Fedor. Beyond that, I wasn’t excited about anybody coming up, other than guys who were going to be in the UFC.”

Whether Henderson will ever get another shot at Silva remains to be seen. However, the Greco-Roman specialist will likely have no shortage of intriguing possibilities for however long he continues to compete in the Octagon.

The American built much of his reputation during his days competing in Japan, winning titles in Pride and Rings. With the UFC’s return to the Land of the Rising Sun coming in February, Henderson says he would enjoy the opportunity to compete in Japan once more.

“It would be fun to go back and fight in Japan,” said Henderson. “I fought there for many years and I enjoyed the fans, so it would be fun to get back over there.”

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