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Will Dan Henderson Become the Light Heavyweight G.O.A.T. If He Beats Jon Jones?

(Pic Props: MMA Photoshops)

By Jason Moles and Doug “ReX” Richardson

Before the ink on the contract dried, MMA fans began debating if Dan “Hendo” Henderson would become the greatest light heavyweight champion of all time should he beat Jon “Bones” Jones at UFC 151. While that is certainly entertaining water cooler fodder, I’m not so sure it’s a conversation we’re even allowed to have at this point. Remember the old Ric Flair maxim, “To be the man, you gotta beat the man.” Are you certain that Jones is the man? Before you get all up in arms about the perceived blasphemy, consider this: legacies are not born overnight. A legacy is built over years of dominance — after much blood, sweat and tears have been spilled. Although both Jones and Henderson were nominated for being the Best American Fighter in MMA History, I still wasn’t convinced the winner of the fight would automatically reach GOAT status. That’s where Rex comes in. Join us, won’t you, as we banter back and forth over a couple of cold ones…

Alright Rex, before we go any further let’s settle this one small thing: Who is the current holder of the “Greatest Light Heavyweight Champ of All Time?”

RX: Well, technically speaking, Dan Henderson has only held a light-heavyweight championship once: in Strikeforce, for like five minutes before he said “Deuce, bitches” and bulked up to heavyweight. While I think we all agree that a Strikeforce title doesn’t count because LOLOL, the fact remains that Hendo is making a strong argument for true GOAT status, not just as a light heavy, but as a fighter, period.

JM: For me, it’s gotta be Chuck Liddell. His record speaks for itself, but we’ll get to that in a minute. When you think of UFC, you almost immediately think of Liddell. Why do you suppose that is? I’ll tell you — it’s because he was the sport’s first crossover star. The Hall of Famer and former light heavyweight champion “wrote” a best-selling autobiography, made numerous television and movie cameos, and was the first UFC fighter to appear on the cover of ESPN the Magazine. When I think of greatness, I think big-picture, in and out of the Octagon.

Holding the record for the most wins in the Light heavyweight division at 18, “The Iceman” is, and will be for a long time, the Greatest of All Time. Compiling two separate seven-fight win streaks, the mohawked knockout artist was the dominant force to be reckoned with for nearly a decade.  During his prime, Liddell held the gold for over two years, leaving a pile of unconscious bodies in his wake. I really wish I still had a copy of his opponent’s contracts from back in the day. Every brave soul who was crazy enough to sign on the dotted line was issued a toe tag and a free consultation with an attorney to set up a Last Will and Testament. (I made that last part up.) You see, Chuck Liddell is one BAMF and if you don’t think he’s the GOAT you should GTFO while I SMDH in utter disappointment.

RX: Oh, there they go. There they go, every time I start talkin ’bout MMA, a white man got to pull Chuck Liddell out they ass. That’s their one! That’s their one! Chuck Liddell! Chuck Liddell! Let me tell you something, once and for all — Chuck Liddell was good; but compared to Quinton Jackson, Chuck Liddell ain’t shit!

Seriously, though — Chuck Liddell made his debut at UFC 17, where he decisioned … some guy, it doesn’t matter.  You know who else was at UFC 17?  Dan Henderson.  Hendo won the UFC’s one-night, four man middleweight tournament that night. Chuck’s last fight, a KO loss to Rich Franklin, was in June 2010.  Hendo would win Strikeforce gold that December.  He bracketed Liddell’s career, and he’s still a badass.

Oh, PLUS he went to the Olympics in Barcelona and Atlanta, where he (presumably) racked up tons of Olympic cooch. Hold on, I just talked myself into — I need to add ‘Hang with Hendo’ to my bucket list. Hendo beats Liddell all day, brother man.

JM: With or without TRT?

Do you really have beat the man to be the man?

RX: You know, I ran into Arn Anderson once, and I said “Arn, you hang out with Ric Flair, just between me and you, how old is Ric Flair?”  You know what Arn told me, he said “Hey, Ric Flair is 137 years old.” A hundred and thirty-seven years old!

JM: In this case, certainly not. Chuck’s a shell of his former self and is retired to boot. Now, if we were talking about the greatest middleweight of all time, then yeah, beating Anderson Silva would be a prerequisite for the GOAT conversation. Because Henderson can’t actually fight Liddell, we can only speculate — a dangerous charge. That being said, “Hendo” can make his claim for the coveted title starting with a win over Jon Jones at UFC 151.

Either way, many people will still see it differently. At UFC 151, current champ Jon Jones will fight Dan Henderson and the winner will become immortalized. However, immortality doesn’t equate with being the greatest of all time. (Think Ken Shamrock) If Dan Henderson wins, does that make him the absolute greatest man to ever wear the light heavyweight strap?

RX: Oh yeah, topic. I agree that you don’t have to beat the man to be the man, because the whole game of pinning the tail on the GOAT is mostly a discussion to spill ink over. The whole point is arguing about it, since obviously we’ll never see the true greats all fight one another.

JM: I concur with Rex. I’ve got all the respect in the world for the man who shut Bisping’s loud mouth. He’s one of the most decorated mixed martial artists the sport has ever seen, and is sure to find his place in the UFC Hall of Fame according to Dana White. All things considered, Henderson’s success has been aided by TRT, Chuck’s was not. End of story.

If you’re looking for Hendo’s unfair advantage, I say it’s less about his TRT and more about his Leno chin.

Okay, let’s say Dan does win on September 1st. He fights a few more fights before going out to pasture. What then, must Jon Jones do to [reclaim/become] the LHW GOAT label?

What? If a prime Jones loses to Hendo — yes, a legend, but a legend at the tail end of his meteoric career — I think he’s out of the conversation. Conversely, Hendo puts himself into the conversation with a win.  But yeah, Jones?  Jones would have to smoke everybody forever for people to let him live that one down.

JM: Jones needs to continue his dominance for another five years. That’s not to say he has to remain unbeaten. (Don’t even go there. That was a BS call and you know it!) He’s on the right track for sure, he just needs to keep it going. Holding the title that was so darn slippery to a handful of his predecessors is a testament to his increasing greatness. I don’t doubt that he will eventually earn the ‘Greatest of All Time’ crown as he becomes the modern day Chuck Liddell — the fearsome fighter who transcends MMA and crosses over into the mainstream, like for instance, his deal with Nike.

Well, there you have it. To borrow a line from your favorite writer here at CP, “What say you, Potato Nation?”

Cagepotato Comments

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Fatty McDickbutts- August 23, 2012 at 8:50 am
Jones is already the GOAT at LHW -- haters are just in denial: This win, and Jones has officially beaten every A-list fighter in the division: You have up-and-comers that could pull an upset potentially in the future if JBJ gets lazy (Glover, Gustaffson, Maybe even Davis), but let's be real here folks: The way Jones is crushing legends in this sport is unprecedented - Jones has made everybody he's fought (including Rashad, who could at best survive to a decision) look absolutely pathetic. Hendo's just another drop in the pond -- if he wins it will be a MIRACLE. Jones *will* lose eventually, but it's not happenin' anytime soon. Can't wait to see what the haters are gonna' try and spin after Hendo gets crushed (same ones that are chanting "H-BOMB H-BOMB" are gonna do a 180 and say "Oh, but he's OLD")
ArmFarmer- August 23, 2012 at 7:09 am
Yes he did... he said he would put page as the #5 ranked lhw GOAT...
Hill-Billy- August 22, 2012 at 9:16 pm
He never said page was GOAT, just that he ranks higher on the list than Hendo.

I think you toss the Jon Jones of 2012 in the cage with any of those other guys in their prime Bones is the clear favorite. I know people hate him and this is cage potato. But seriously, JBJ takes out Hendo he's cleared a light heavyweight division out that includes Shogun, Lyoto, Rampage, Rashad, and guys like Franklin, Wand, and Forrest can't even make it past gatekeeper status in that division.

People said it best in the Rhonda Roussey all time best thread:

You simply can't compare the quality of Men's MMA today to what it was five or ten years ago.

JBJ for the win.
ArmFarmer- August 22, 2012 at 5:36 pm
@Rwilson how do you have rampage as a goat when he never even held onto a title for any length of time? He was never a pride champion, and he only defended a ufc belt once... then lost it to forrest griffin..
ArmFarmer- August 22, 2012 at 5:31 pm
Awesome pic, hendo air ftw!
RwilsonR- August 22, 2012 at 3:32 pm
Double-crap! Forgot Chael Sonnen. He's undefeated at LHW, and thus, GOAT.
RwilsonR- August 22, 2012 at 3:31 pm
Crap! Totally forgot to slot Rampage in. He'd be right after Shogun on my list.
RwilsonR- August 22, 2012 at 3:28 pm
If you're judging LHW GOAT based on how they competed against their peers at the time, and the contributions to the sport in that division, I don't have Hendo even close to the top. 1. Chuck Liddell. 2. Wanderlei Silva. 3. Jon Jones. 4. Shogun Rua. 5. Randy Couture. 6. Tito Ortiz. 7. Dan Henderson (with a big TRT asterisk by his name).
knucklesamitch- August 22, 2012 at 1:17 pm
The overall argument against Hendo seems to be TRT. I honestly think TRT should be banned, but comparing Hendo to the likes of Barry Bonds is a bit much. The problem with TRT is that comissions are starting to give exemptions, and for me personally, it's hard for me to fault Hendo (or anyone for that matter) for taking advantage of something they are ALLOWED to do within the rules.

The problem with TRT is it separates cheaters from admitted cheaters ... So either just flat out allow it, or get rid of it.
Dizzylittlelord- August 22, 2012 at 12:50 pm
if hendo won the lhw belt in the ufc he would go down as one of the p4p greats. if he takes it from jon jones the superstar coming into his prime then he is easily talking about top 8 p4p.problem is though with hendos losses to shields and anderson he will never be the goat
Pen Fifteen- August 22, 2012 at 12:40 pm
I'm pretty sure the UFC tourney win (over legends Carlos Newton and Alan Goes) and holding the Pride WW strap aren't accomplishments being bandied about here as part of Dan's credentials for GOAT. How do you know he wasn't on TRT we he beat Wand for the MW strap? Per a CP article from last summer, Dan has been on TRT since 2007, and that fight took place in February of that year (never mind the bootleg matchmaking that let him get a title shot in the first place).

Seriously, Dan is a beast and all, and good on him for being able to keep scrapping into his 40s, but there is no way he rates as a GOAT at LHW. I can't think of a single other sport in which athletes are legally allowed to dope and their fans think of excuses for it.
Fletch the V Stretch- August 22, 2012 at 1:12 pm
I can't think of a single other sport where athletes aren't already taking PED's and for the most part it is being swept under the rug. I also can't think of any other sport where people can get kneed in the face, kicked in the face, punched in the mouth with a glove that has little to no padding, have their arms broken, etc.
Me likey- August 22, 2012 at 12:36 pm
yup, he was taking test, deca, winstrol, anavar etc. while in pride. screw some wimpy trt.
El Guapo- August 22, 2012 at 12:02 pm
I thought Rex was dead? Huh.
As for the greatest of all time, I gotta go with (Buffer voice)"thuuuuhhh ICEmannnnnn! Chuck... Liddellllllll!"
knucklesamitch- August 22, 2012 at 12:01 pm
I'm pretty sure that Hendo didn't win 2 PRIDE titles and a UFC tourney while on TRT.
Pen Fifteen- August 22, 2012 at 11:48 am
Dan's legacy is about as legit as Barry Bonds from that standpoint. Bonds would already have been an all-time great, but he was the GOAT thanks to the roids. What makes Dan's case any different?
Pen Fifteen- August 22, 2012 at 11:47 am
How many fighters do we know of on TRT? Mir, Duffee, Chael, Forrest. Who has Mir lost to since going on TRT? the current champ JDS. Forrest won his last fight. Who gives a shit about Duffee. Chael went from being an also-ran to the #2 MW in the world on TRT. I guess since he only came way way way fucking closer than anyone in the last 6 years to beating Silva, we'll assume the TRT was a nil advantage? GTFO. And any
Fletch the V Stretch- August 22, 2012 at 1:07 pm
See below at my response to Get off me. It applies to you as well.
Fletch the V Stretch- August 22, 2012 at 1:06 pm
Also, Forrest beat fucking TITO ORTIZ. He could have skipped TRT and taken PURE ESTROGEN and probably squeaked out a win in the exact same fashion.
Fletch the V Stretch- August 22, 2012 at 11:32 am
I think Dan Henderson is WAY BETTER than Chuck Liddell. Chuck was fun to watch but let's not forget he has been beaten by the like of Jeremy Horn, Rampage, etc. Who is most synonymous with the UFC? Definitely Liddell but Dan Henderson has won fights (and huge fights) in 3 separate divisions. He beat who many just 2-3 years ago considered the best fighter ever to walk the hear and did so by moving up in weight and being severely outweighed. He is also fighting and winning past Chuck's age. Everyone gets their panties in a bunch about this TRT issue but how many fighters using TRT are actually fucking winning their fights????? Please, name one. DAN IS THE MAN. End of discussion.
Get Off Me- August 22, 2012 at 12:49 pm
Chael Sonnen(except for his fights against A. Silva) he TRT'd his way to victory over Marquardt, Okami, Stann and Bisping. People need to get their panties in a bunch over TRT(STEROIDS) if this sport will ever reach it's full potential.
Fletch the V Stretch- August 22, 2012 at 1:04 pm
Frank Mir got destroyed on TRT, Duffee got beat by a guy who was on ANTI-TRT, Chael lost to Anderson twice (with a broken rib once) while on TRT, Marquardt was busted for TRT as well so who is to say he wasn't on it when he lost to Chael (completely negates your argument there), and the majority of everyone would say Bisping beat Chael furthering his losses while on TRT. His victory over Stann, to me, is more an issue of Stann's lack of JJ knowledge than Chael's enhanced testicles. Give Overfag more TRT and I bet he still gets destroyed by JDS.
Get Off Me- August 22, 2012 at 3:35 pm
I was not debating simply answering your question as to naming a fighter who won on TRT. Frank Mir got destroyed by JDS(HW champ)just like Chael lost to the MW champ, but my point is even though they could not win the title on it, does not mean it should be allowed. Looking at fighting records of guys on TRT and making a decision on whether or not TRT should be allowed is pointless. Leben lost on Stanazol in England to Bisping, should we allowed Stanazol in the sport too because we have a fighter who fought and lost while taking it? All the fighter's you listed have won while taking PED's, don't kid yourself and think Mir just got on the T-train either.
Fletch the V Stretch- August 22, 2012 at 11:38 am
Hear = earth
J.Jones- August 22, 2012 at 11:32 am
Also, Rex stole his first paragraph on Liddell from Daniel Tosh, who stole it from Cedric the Entertainer. DON'T CALL ME OUT YOU HACK.
ReX13- August 22, 2012 at 11:44 am
Sounds like Cedric stole it from Coming to America. #THEFTCEPTION
J.Jones- August 22, 2012 at 11:48 am
How could I forget about the barbershop scene to end all barbershop scenes? Crystal meth, that's how.
Pen Fifteen- August 22, 2012 at 11:28 am
This discussion would be a lot easier to have after Dan loses to Jones. Look at his record at LHW: losses to Little Nog, Arona, Rampage, and Wand, all during his presumed prime, rather than at the tail end as happened in Chuck's case. You'd have to be nuts to look at Dan's career arc (decision loss to Misaki, anyone?) and not see him as a TRT tiger.
Fletch the V Stretch- August 22, 2012 at 11:35 am
I would like to see him fight Lil Nog, Arona, Rampage, and Wandy right now and see who wins those fights. Not to mention he already destroyed Wandy when Wandy was in fact Wandy.
ReX13- August 22, 2012 at 11:22 am
Also, Danga stole that "what say you?" from his favorite newsman: Papa Bear Bill O'Reilly.
ReX13- August 22, 2012 at 11:21 am
i think my pop culture references may be getting old.