Henderson and Mauricio Rua
put on a show Saturday night at the HP Pavilion in San Jose,
Calif., beating the daylights out of one another for 25 minutes in
Though both men showed great heart throughout the five-round
affair, it was Henderson who walked away with a narrow unanimous
decision. Just minutes after besting his fellow
Pride Fighting Championships alum, an exhausted but pleased
Henderson offered up his thoughts on his UFC future. Asked if he
believed he was next in line for a shot at the promotion’s
205-pound title, the former Strikeforce
belt-holder responded in his typically understated fashion.
“Absolutely,” Henderson said in
a backstage video interview with ClinchGear.com.
If Henderson has indeed earned himself a title shot with his win
over Rua, it is well-deserved. The 41-year-old wasted no time in
lighting up “Shogun,” staggering him with a right hand early in the
first frame and immediately looking for an opportunity to
Though Rua survived the initial scare, round two brought more of
the same, as “Hendo” cracked his man with a stiff uppercut and
generally dictated the round’s pace with his power punching.
Henderson’s sledgehammer overhand right returned in round three,
smashing into the side of Rua’s skull and buckling his knees. This
time, Henderson committed to the kill, raining down a storm of
leather and elbows while hoping for a referee intervention.
Somehow, the Brazilian again survived, transitioning to a heel hook
attempt before regaining his vertical base.
“I tried to finish him a couple of times. I think that tired me out
a little bit. He tried to ‘Rocky Balboa’ me and wear me out with
his head,” Henderson said. “I thought it was one or two shots away
from being finished. He tucked his head in pretty nice. I tried to
push him away and get some elbows [in]. I couldn’t get any
Round four was another competitive frame until Rua landed a sharp
uppercut of his own that wobbled Henderson. Rua pounced, scoring a
takedown and mounting his foe before briefly taking Henderson’s
back as the round expired.
The final frame was all Rua, as “Shogun” took Henderson down early
and once again mounted him. Though “Hendo” recovered half-guard
several times, the Brazilian recaptured the mount with as much
regularity, cashing in on some payback via ground-and-pound.
Though few would argue that the fight was a competitive one,
Henderson claimed that he was not worried by his predicament in
round five due to his performance in the first 20 minutes of the
“When he got the takedown in the fifth round, I knew I had the
fight won. I just didn’t want to give him a 10-8 round,” said
Henderson. “I would have been very surprised if [the decision] had
gone the other way. I thought I won the first four rounds, three of
them easily, with a possible 10-8 round. So I knew I had the fight
Though Henderson found himself trapped under his foe, the wily
veteran survived the position to hear the final horn sound. While
not ecstatic about finishing the fight on his back, Henderson
admitted that he would have made more of an effort to escape had he
believed the outcome was in jeopardy.
“That’s not the way I like to finish fights, but he wasn’t doing
too much damage and I was still able to move on bottom. Had the
fight been real close, I would have tried to win that fifth round,”
said Henderson. “I think [it had to do with] a little bit of
fatigue and me knowing I had the fight won, so I didn’t need to