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Dan Henderson May Have Screwed Himself by Turning Down Lil’ Nog Rematch

(Dan Henderson vs. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira highlights, via DJIL PROD)

Fun fact: Alexander Gustafsson only got the UFC on FUEL 2 headlining spot against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira because Dan Henderson turned the fight down first. As Ariel Helwani reported on UFC Tonight and via Twitter, ”the original plan was if [Rashad] Evans beat [Phil] Davis, he would face [Jon] Jones. The winner of Hendo/Nog would then fight for the #1 contender. Now, since Hendo turned down the Nog fight, his status is unclear.”

Henderson says he had several good reasons for passing on Lil’ Nog, who previously submitted him by armbar at Pride Total Elimination 2005. As he explained on Clinch Gear Radio:

I was under the impression that [UFC President Dana White] still kind of was on the fence whether he was going to put me in front of Rashad or not, that’s assuming Rashad wins. [White] did offer me a fight with ‘Little Nogueira.’ I didn’t think the fans would be interested in that fight, and not as much time as I would like to prepare for a five-round fight. So I told him I would wait to see what happened with the Rashad fight. I would like to fight Jones now rather than if I took that fight with ‘Little Nog,’ I wouldn’t be fighting Jones until another eight-nine months…

It would have kept me active right now, but I’m okay waiting a little bit. We’ll see what happens with the Rashad fight and go from there. It was more about having the time to prepare. I did inquire and said, ‘Hey, I would be interested in doing it if it was a three-round fight.’ I could have time to prepare for that.”

After such a harrowing end to his 25-minute war against Mauricio Rua, you can understand why Hendo would be a little spooked to jump right back into another five-round main event. But the “fans wouldn’t be interested” excuse is mostly B.S., and it’s clear that this is mostly about staying available just in case the UFC wants to offer him a title shot against Jon Jones. After all, if Phil Davis beats Rashad Evans later this month, the UFC might line-jump Dan Henderson ahead of Davis to create a more marketable light-heavyweight title fight.

That’s the theory, anyway, and Henderson seems to be putting all his eggs in that basket. However, turning down big fights in order to hold out for even bigger fights is the quickest way to get frozen out by the UFC. Ask Rashad Evans, who benched himself in order to wait for a title shot against Mauricio Rua (which never came), and has been paying for it ever since. The UFC asked Hendo to do them a favor, and he said “nah,” so you can expect the UFC to respond the same way when it’s Hendo’s turn to ask.

As for Phil Davis, the undefeated rising star couldn’t care less what the UFC decides to do with the light-heavyweight title picture, telling MMA Mania:

Give [the title shot] to Hendo. I ain’t losing. Give it to Hendo. I don’t care either way. You can give it to Hendo and there will still be a belt when I get there. There will still be a belt when I get there. I don’t care who the person is that has the belt but there will be a belt when I get to it and that’s all that I’m concerned about. If somebody else gets to fight the champ before I do, that’s fine with me.”

Cagepotato Comments

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JUDOknowSHIT- January 16, 2012 at 6:14 pm
xeno, that's THE gayest thing i've ever heard anyone say on this site. (and that's saying ALOT) You've pretty much just admitted that you only watch because you're physically attracted to the fighters. hair transplants? seriously?
jozseffrd- January 14, 2012 at 10:09 am
To @El Guapo about saying Hendo is done coz him and Shogun beat the living Hell out of each other.Well these guys are professional fighters they get beat up that's what they do.Hendo was written off many times before nobody thought he had a chance against Fedor.Saying all that I don't think Fedor would beat Jonny"Bones"but because he's probably the best natural wrestler Jones ever faced and he has a killer straight right and has a one punch knock out in his left no one can count him out.
jozseffrd- January 14, 2012 at 9:59 am
Well here's Hendo Getting F.cked over by Dana White again.UFC brought him back for a possible title fight against Jonny Bones if he wins against Shogun.Now he did that they give him Lil'Nog who is 2 and 3 in his last 5 fights and they want Hendo to take a Chance on another 5 rounders after winning the Strikeforce belt than beating Fedor and Shogun.So why lil Nog should even considered for this fight coz he beat Tito???Wow big f.cking dill.Hando is over 40 he can't keep doing 5 rnd battles and keep up with 24 yrs olds.And anyways outside of some Brazilian fans who the Hell wanna watch lil Nog in a Main event????I am sure I'm speaking for the majority of fans as I read the comments.
Todd M- January 13, 2012 at 9:24 pm
Looks like we all agree, Hendo deserves a better opponent than Nog and has earned the right to turn that fight down, I was also shocked when I saw Lil Nog and No 1 contendor in the same paragraph.
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BaghdadBob- January 13, 2012 at 4:46 pm
Hendo made the wise decision. It's not like he's getting any younger.
P2- January 13, 2012 at 4:05 pm
The maker of the Hendo/Lil' Nog highlight video needs to understand that he's only helping the "BJJ/homosexuality" argument when he sets the video to sensual, trip-hop. Even I felt like I was watching softcore gay porn. The staredown had a "come-hither" quality I never noticed before.
Lesnarischamp- January 13, 2012 at 1:25 pm
lol @ lil nog in a #1 contenders match
XENOPHON- January 13, 2012 at 10:58 am
No one wants to spend $50 bucks to see these old fuckers fight again unless they get hair transplants. As if the winner could defeat Jones?
Time for the UFC to open the gates and flood the division with new talent, new names, and breath some new life into a soon to be stale weight class.
The alternative is to force Jones to move up after his next 3 wins, and let the left overs go back to fighting each other for the next 3 years.
Amjur- January 13, 2012 at 10:50 am
I don't know that Davis gets the title shot if he beats Rashad. At least not right away. Jones is down to fight as early as March. Davis won't be ready that soon. A healthy and available Henderson would make a lot of sense at that point - and if/when Jones wins he can fight Davis in June.
Gener- January 13, 2012 at 10:47 am
Hendo beat Fedor and Shogun...

He's earned his shot at Jon Jones... especially since Jones wants to fight soon.
El Guapo- January 13, 2012 at 9:32 am
And if I said it once, I said it a million times; Hendo's done.
Whoa, whoa! People, please. Please, people. Back up, back up. Allow me to explain. Hendo and WHO-Ahhh beat the living shit outta eachother. The... living... shit. I don't think either will ever be a shell of their former selves after that one. I know they're both probably past their respective primes and all, but still. That was a war. A grueling, mind, body and soul stripping war. Wouldn't be suprised if both looked flat as Cyborg's chesspiece(nawmsayin?)their next fight, regardless of who they're facing.
El Guapo- January 13, 2012 at 9:21 am
Well,the way I see it is, if Hendo were to fight Lil N... Wait. BG has an edit button? WTF? I want an edit button. We ALL want an edit button! BOO THIS MAN!
Dagnut- January 13, 2012 at 8:20 am
Henderson is no mug...he's frugal with his words for good reason..he has nothing to gain from fighting Nog so why bother? At this stage of his career who can question his judgement?
danomite- January 13, 2012 at 8:12 am
ok, so even if phil wins AND dana gives phil the title shot, that still puts Hendo where he would be had he taken the fight with Lil Nog, that is, one fight away from a title fight. But he will also have the advantage of being more rested and well prepared than he would have been had he rushed into this fight with Nog. Unless of course, you think DW would dick him over by making him win more than one fight before giving him a fight with Jon Jones, but I don't think fans would let him get away with something like that.
Jugger- January 13, 2012 at 7:41 am
The for the past 4 years everybody has second-guessed Hendo's decision making skills. Remember all the flack he got for squeezing the UFC for mo' money, and then going to Strikeforce? Oh yeah, and then he won the LHW belt, got to fight/beat Fedor, got an immediate welcome-back match with Shogun, made a ton of cash and basically solidified his legacy.

Dan is the captain of his fate, and he's done a pretty darn good job of navigating the MMA landscape. I'm inclined to trust him on this one too.
jimbonics- January 13, 2012 at 7:40 am
See that kids? BG has an edit button.
KarmaAteMyCat- January 13, 2012 at 7:34 am
I think Hendo made the right call, I also think BG is right if Davis beats Evans he's gonna get the first shot at Bones.
Pen Fifteen- January 13, 2012 at 7:33 am
How is his excuse that the fans don't want to see him fight Little Nog b.s.? Are you telling me you want to see that fight? Little Nog has been game in the UFC, but it's clearly he's not even close to being a contender at this point in his career. I don't see why Henderson would want to take a fight in which he has very little to gain and much to lose other than, as you suggest, keeping the bosses happy, which has never been something the dude has shown much interest in doing.
jimbonics- January 13, 2012 at 7:33 am
I'd want a title shot if I beat Jon Jones too, Ben.
knucklesamitch- January 13, 2012 at 7:29 am
I think everyone is overlooking the obvious reason for Hendo to turn down the fight. Even if Rashad wins, if he comes out with an injury that will shelve him for several months, Bones Jones is going to want a fight ... And there will be Hendo. Smart move on his part if you ask me.
Luiz Alexandre- January 13, 2012 at 7:18 am
Sorry, I should have said "the first or second in line after Rashad".
Luiz Alexandre- January 13, 2012 at 7:16 am
I disagree, I think that Hendo has a point. At this stage of his and Minotouro's career this fight would be a mistake for the former. He's like the second or third in line after Rashad for the title shot and Lil' Nog, as Danomite said, is coming from his first victory after two losses. What would happen if Lil' Nog wins the fight? Steal his thunder? As a brazilian, I gotta tell you, I would love to see it happening, even though I don't believe that he would win Henderson this time. I think that Hendo should fight the champ, be the guy Bones, Rashad, whoever.
Vovchanchyn Check- January 13, 2012 at 6:56 am
also, keep in mind that hendo's only got so many fights left in him at this stage in his career. it makes sense to pick and choose them.
bgoldstein- January 13, 2012 at 6:48 am
"so if he sits out, he probably gets a title shot if rashad loses"

See, that's the part I disagree with. I think Hendo just guaranteed that Davis will get the title shot if he beats Rashad. [fixed]