We weren’t the only ones left scratching our heads when it was announced that Dan Henderson and Daniel Cormier would meet at UFC 175. It’s not that we felt the fight is a squash match or anything, because Henderson’s victory over Mauricio Rua at Fight Night 38 proved that he is never one to be counted out entirely. It’s just that, well, up until the point that Hendo turned Rua’s nose into a pancake, he looked every bit as stiff and sluggish as one would expect a 43-year-old MMA fighter with nearly as many battles on his resume to look.
Couple Henderson’s recent performance(s) with the fact that Cormier is a much younger (in fight years, at least), stronger, and faster version of Rua, and that the matchup will serve as Henderson’s first sans-TRT, and you might begin to understand our surprise at the booking of this fight…
If you all will excuse me…
Clearly, it would be hard to argue against giving Cormier the next title shot after Gustafsson should he defeat Henderson — that is the point of this matchup after all, right? To match Cormier up with a credible, if fading name to establish his legitimacy as a title contender? But the idea that Dan Henderson, who just broke a three-fight losing streak via an improbable comeback over a guy he already beat, seems presumptuous to say the least.
Then again, who knows? Maybe this is just one of those Condit vs. Woodley situations, where the UFC has a contender in mind and is simply sweetening the pot by giving the fight #1 contender (or in this case, #2 contender) status. The difference being that Henderson is a much more marketable fighter than Woodley, and therefore deserves a title shot where Woodley wouldn’t.
I’m not saying that it would be the craziest thing in the world to give Henderson a shot at this point in his career, especially if he is able to somehow get past Cormier. The man’s a legend, he’s earned it, yadda yadda yadda, and lord knows people are still bitter about UFC 151. Having Hendo fight Jones (if he’s still the champ after my boy Gus gets through with him*) would at least partially put that debate to rest, but can you imagine how Phil Davis is going to react to this news? Or, you know, Jones himself?
But as it stands, a 43-year-old who is 1-3 in his last 4 is now one win away from a title shot. Light Heavyweight, ladies and gentlemen.
*Or Glover Teixeira. Let’s not forget about the guy who’s actually fighting Jones next, even though the UFC apparently already has.