The UFC 139 main event will feature a light heavyweight fight between former champions Dan Henderson and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. This fight is essentially a number one contender eliminator match with the winner probably receiving a title shot against the winner of the Jon Jones(champion) vs. Lyoto Machida fight that takes place at UFC 140 next month. This should be a war so let’s see how it breaks down.
Shogun Rua comes into this fight with a career record of (20-5) with 17 wins via TKO/KO and one via submission. Rua was last seen in action back in August dismantling former champion Forrest Griffin and avenging a prior loss winning via TKO in the first round. Rua was coming off a brutal loss to Jon Jones in which he lost his UFC light heavyweight title. Rua is known for his aggressive muay thai based attack which features heavy leg kicks and kicks to the body. The largest weakness of Rua is his takedown defense as he has been taken down relatively easy over the years by past opponents.
Dan Henderson comes into this fight with a career record of (28-8) with 13 wins via TKO/KO and two via submissions. Henderson was last seen in action back in July, knocking out the greatest heavyweight of our time in Fedor Emelianenko. Henderson had won the Strikeforce lightheavyweight title by defeating Rafael Cavalcante via TKO back in March. Henderson has huge power in both hands that comes in the form of an overhand right or a devastating left hook. He also has an extensive background in Greco-Roman wrestling. If there’s a hole in his game it could be his submission defense, but other than that he’s solid all around.
Bet on Fighting has Rua as the betting favorite at (-145) and Henderson as the slight underdog at (+115).
I think that stylistically this is a good fight for both fighters as they like to come forward with strikes. I would place a small wager on Henderson at these odds. He’s never been knocked out and he is a better wrestler than Rua, but it should be noted that Rua has the edge in regards to submissions.
This fight should be fireworks as both are aggressive strikers with Rua possessing the more diversed striking game of the two. Rua likes to come forward with punches in bunches followed with leg kicks or kicks to the body. Henderson is more one dimensional with his strikes. He likes to flick a lazy leg kick as a distraction before throwing that huge overhand right that has put many fighters to sleep. It’s weird because fighters know what is coming, yet still can’t seem to escape it. Just ask Michael Bisping!
This is a difficult fight to predict because Henderson has two equalizer’s standing in his ability to take a punch and his KO power. Rua can take punishement as well as he has only be stopped once (discarding the Coleman fluke loss) and that was against Jon Jones. If Henderson wants to take Rua down he should be able to as he is the better wrestler and Rua’s takedown defense isn’t very good. It’ll all depend on Henderson’s gameplan. The easiest path to victory for Henderson is to close the distance and use his Greco-Roman wrestling to take Rua down from the clinch. He can work some ground and pound from there as Rua isn’t a big submission threat off of his back as most of game involves sweeps or just getting back to his feet.
Rua’s path to victory will be keeping the fight on the feet and simply mixing up his strikes. I think he’ll have to outpoint Henderson for the win as Henderson has an iron chin. I would give a very slight edge in cardio to Henderson even though he is the older fighter. There’s no telling if Rua will ever be able to properly train his cardio levels due to the multiple knee injuries he has suffered throughout this career. If Rua doesn’t get Henderson out of there early on, I think Henderson takes this fight via decision or via stoppage late in the fight.