Discussion: Is Dan Henderson the #2 light heavyweight in the world after beating Shogun Rua?

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At UFC 139 Dan Henderson put on the fight of his life to win his fourth fight in less than a year at 41 years of age. He did so by besting Shogun Rua who many believed was the number two light heavyweight in the world behind Jon Jones.

We know that rankings are subjective, but could one make an argument that Dan Henderson is the number two light heavyweight in the world? Let’s look at some fighters in the discussion:

  • Shogun Rua-It could be argued that the fight with Henderson was so close that Shogun Rua not be moved from the #2 spot. Then again, if you don’t move him…you kind of have to put Dan Henderson there as well since the fight was so close(and he actually won) no?
  • Rashad Evans-Evans has only fought once in the past year, stopping Tito Ortiz in the second round in an impressive performance. His only loss is to Lyoto Machida back in 2009. He did best Rampage Jackson and Thiago Silva via unanimous decision after almost being finished at the end of both of those fights in early 2010 though.
  • Rampage Jackson-Jackson bounced back from the Rashad Evans loss to best Lyoto Machida(narrowly) near the end of 2010, and then Matt Hamill earlier this year before losing to Jon Jones in September. He also has a loss to Shogun Rua many moons ago, but I don’t think you can factor that loss anymore. Jackson bested Dan Henderson four years ago in an epic fight at UFC 75. Again, can you really factor that fight nowadays since it was so long ago?

Dan Henderson has bested the following fighters in the past year:

Only Rua was a ranked light heavyweight as Emelianenko was probably a barely ranked top ten heavyweight at the time he knocked him out. We must keep in mind that Henderson moved up to heavyweight to fight Emelianenko (though he actually only gained a few pounds to satisfy that requirement).

Cavalcante arguably could have been ranked near the bottom of some top ten light heavyweight lists when Henderson knocked him out and Sobral wasn’t a top ten fighter when Henderson melted him in the first round last December.

So we have Henderson fighting some quality fighters in the last year. Rashad Evans being very inactive, but impressive in his lone fight this year while beating some quality competition in early 2010. Rampage Jackson earned two quality wins within the last year and took Jon Jones farther than any fighter thus far.

Shogun Rua defeated Lyoto Machida last year and then was melted by Jon Jones earlier this year. He then avenged a previous defeat against Forrest Griffin before the epic war with Henderson.

So looking at the above information would you consider Dan Henderson the number two light heavyweight in the world? If not, where would you place him?

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  • Gary thomas

    I think you have to consider Rashad a solid #2 and maybe Hendo at three. What gets neglected is the fact that Anderson Silva is undefeated at light heavyweight and had not one ounce of problem with either opponent. Jon Jones can be beaten and I think Rampage exposed some of that in their fight. Henderson has only a short window to get back to the title fight or we may never know.

  • Blstdbl

    After reading this j realized that the UFC isnt a fight promotion, its a marketing promotion…. With that said the marketing behind Jones-Henderson would be awesome. Now to have him #2 in the world is pure crazy talk. He (henderson) no doubt is one of the toughest on the planet but he beat a Shogun who just beat Forrest and now he deserves high praise. If we were talking middleweight it would be golden but the lines to long a lightheavy

  • Yea…only thing is…Evans has only fought once in the last year…beat Tito was isn’t a top ten guy although he beat Bader…I guess I’m saying…can you legitimately keep Evans in the #2 spot that long although he’s only fought once…and it was against a guy that wasn’t top ten…while Hendo has four wins(3 at LHW) in the last year?

    Anderson at LHW isn’t consistent though…no doubt he would be ranked if he fought there permanently..but I can’t put him there since he only has two fights there…and they are sporadic as hell.

  • edub

    Sherdog has him at #2 and #6 pfp. I usually agree with their rankings, but I can’t here. Personally, I’d have him at #4 right behind Rashad then Rampage (and he would barely crack my PFP list if he did at all, and he DEFINITELY doesn’t belong above Dominick Cruz). The people he’s beaten are great, but IMO Rashad is the clear #2 and I know Rampage-Hendo 1 was a while back, but I don’t see it going any differently now. I also don’t have Hendo at two because I believe the Fedor fight was stopped prematurely (prior to back of head shot), and I thought the Rua fight was a clear draw (Not a single judge giving Rua a 10-8 last round really leaves a bad taste in my mouth).

    However, since there is so many people online who are putting Hendo at #2 it’s gotta be a valid line of thought. I would argue that he isn’t at all, but plenty would agree.

  • I don’t even do P4P lists…lol…I dunno…he might get Rampage nowadays…personally..I thought the Rampage that beat Hendo that night was the best Rampage ever and it was still close…the only thing that fuels the argument is the long layoff for Rashad and then the lone layoff against Tito I guess…fun to debate though!