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On This Day in MMA History: 14 Years Ago Dan Henderson Made His MMA Debut

Dan henderson first fight by MMAGLORY

We’re going to try to do an almost daily “On This Day in MMA History” series starting with this appropriate first installment that features one of the sports most popular and successful fighters, former Pride welterweight and middleweight and current Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Dan Henderson.

14 years ago today “Hendo” made his MMA debut in Brazil against Crezio de Souza in the opening round of the Brazil Open ’97 lightweight (176lbs and below) tournament.  Henderson’s bracket of the one-day grand prix also featured Jose “Pele” Landi-Jons, while the heavyweight side featured Kevin Randleman and Tom Erickson.

He recalled the circumstances surrounding his foray into MMA in the CagePotato Retrospective Interview Ben did with him a few months back:

“I’d only been training MMA for about two weeks when I had my first fight. Randy Couture called me and said he was going to do the [Brazil Open ’97] tournament. They had a heavyweight division and also a lightweight division. Plus, there was going to be some other wrestlers there — [Rico Chiapparelli was] trying to manage some guys, and started a team called the RAW Team.

But then Randy ended up getting a call from the UFC — he’d already put an application in, and ended up getting a call because somebody got hurt last-minute — so he fought in the UFC instead. I was pretty much just training with some local guys, preparing for the tournament. When they shut the cage and it was just me and the other guy and the ref in there, I said ‘oh shit.’”

After defeating de Souza by first-round TKO, Dan went on to face fellow American Eric Smith, who had beaten Pele in his opening bout, in the event final. Avoiding the Hammer House fighter’s initial bum rush, Henderson locked on a tight arm-in guillotine that Smith refused to tap to and paid for by being put to sleep.

(Video courtesy of YouTube/gersman20)

With those two fights began an impressive career and an impressive win-streak that would last three-and-a-half years and nine fights, including nods over Renato Sobral, Gilbert Yvel, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Alan Goes and Carlos Newton.

At age 40 and with a solid 27-8 record under his many belts, Henderson is showing no signs of slowing down.

After knocking out Rafael Cavalcante in March with his trademark right hand, the consummate moneyweight fighter will now move up to face Fedor Emelianenko as a heavyweight on July 30 in Chicago at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson.

Cagepotato Comments

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Magic Wandy- June 16, 2011 at 5:34 am
terrible stand up when henderson had the choke in.
Cup Cheick- June 15, 2011 at 8:05 pm
I give it two weeks..or TKO by news in the mma world.
DangadaDang- June 15, 2011 at 7:56 pm
We actually dropped Dan Henderson on Hiroshima in Dubya Dubya 2.
edhedicus- June 15, 2011 at 6:45 pm
Lasts one week....
Mike Russell- June 15, 2011 at 6:34 pm
Well, if the day's history includes things like "Dana White started on Twitter," we may skip a day or two here and there...
Pen Fifteen- June 15, 2011 at 5:48 pm
I'm setting the over-under on how long this lasts as a "daily" feature at 10 days. Any takers?
camel-toe clutch- June 15, 2011 at 5:44 pm
@Mike Russell.... I figured as much. To be honest The real reason I posted was because I thought it was funny as hell
camel-toe clutch- June 15, 2011 at 5:41 pm
And for the record. The new feature is a great idea. I would love to see this as a permanent fixture.
Mike Russell- June 15, 2011 at 5:41 pm
The video isn't ours, nor is the ad for the Lifetime show.
camel-toe clutch- June 15, 2011 at 5:37 pm
I've been a fan of this site for a pretty long time now and this is the first time I have posted. What drove me to do this was the fact that before I was able to watch the hendo clip in this feature I had to sit through a 90 second ad for Lifetime's Drop Dead Diva show.Now don't get me wrong I know you gotta get paid. But seriously, Lifetime? Diva's? You may want to consider your demographic at the next sales meeting guys.
frndlylion- June 15, 2011 at 4:26 pm
If I am not mistaken Eric Smith was tapping before they went to the ground. Watch closely at 2:46. I swear it looks like he is tapping.
hooligun- June 15, 2011 at 4:22 pm
cool idea for a feature - gj you anonymous... j/k gj matey.
Kimbos Bread- June 15, 2011 at 3:51 pm
13.5 years and 17 teeth later, Dan Henderson will go on to loose to the President's choice version of Ryan Reynolds, Jack Shields.