MMAFrenzy concludes its coverage of UFC 139 with our preview of Saturday’s main event between Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Dan Henderson. Stay tuned to MMAFrenzy as we provide complete coverage of UFC 139 including weigh-in results, recaps, and play-by-play starting at 9pm ET.
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Dan Henderson
Keys for Rua (Bryan Robison) –
There is no better way to garner the interest of MMA fans than to put together a matchup of two former PRIDE stars. We get that gift on Saturday with Dan Henderson taking on Shogun Rua.
The two have had very different roads after leaving PRIDE leading up to UFC 139. Henderson has fought for the UFC title at both light heavyweight and middleweight, losing both times. He famously knocked out Michael Bisping at UFC 100, then moved on to Strikeforce to win the light heavyweight title there, along with defeat Fedor in the last Strikeforce match for both.
Meanwhile, Shogun has stayed in one division and one organization, but faced similar scrutiny. He started his UFC career with a deflating loss to Forrest Griffin, but came back with a victory over Mark Coleman. He has a current patter of loss-win-loss-win going into this fight, with the most recent win occurring against Griffin in a rematch at UFC 134 in August.
The two have nearly squared off twice before, both during their PRIDE careers, but those fights never occurred.
Now we finally get the opportunity to see two of the greatest light heavyweights of all time.
Regarding Shogun, he has a complete arsenal of strikes. He has excellent punches, great knees in the clinch, and fantastic leg kicks. The latter two can prove to be integral to defeating Henderson.
Even with Henderson’s strong right hand, Shogun’s punching can not be discounted.
Henderson has been knocked down in the first round of his last two fights, firstly against Feijao Cavalcante, and then against Fedor Emelianenko. If Shogun is able to knock Henderson down, expect him to be able to finish the fight, unlike Feijao and Fedor.
Shogun looked much more alert and agile in his most recent fight against Griffin than he did in his loss against Jon Jones in February. Coming off of a long layoff at UFC 128, in which Shogun was fighting for the first time in ten months, Shogun looked out of shape from the beginning. That was not the case against Griffin, as he has always been better the more active he is, and with less extended layoffs.
Even with that improved conditioning, neither fighter has consistently shown they can maintain that energy and agility going into the championship rounds. With this fight scheduled as a five round affair, chances are the fighter that imposes his will in the earlier rounds, will carry the advantage throughout the whole fight.
That will be advantageous for Shogun, who of his last ten wins, eight came in the first round. Meanwhile, Henderson has just two. Both of those occurred within the last year.
If Henderson is unable to impose his will on an opponent, he can get flustered and begin to rely on his overhand right too much. That was the case against Jake Shields, along with his loss against Rampage Jackson.
While Henderson is an elite wrestler, he has never truly relied on it, as he has always been willing to test himself against his opponents on his feet. As long as Henderson does not surprise everyone by attempting to grapple with Shogun the entire time, Shogun can either outpoint Henderson, or win the striking battle and use his advantage on the ground with his submission game.
Keys for Henderson (CL) – Dan Henderson is a former Olympic wrestler who was also a standout college wrestler. However, as time has gone on he has increasingly become the incarnation of a former baseball coach’s favorite saying “swing hard in case you hit it.”
Henderson has a lot of power in that right hand and his ability to survive punches that would fell a horse is an asset to someone who makes up for a lack of technique with power. While Henderson has been dropped multiple times in his last few fights, that only seems to wake him up since he creates violent knockouts soon after.
Shogun is aggressive and posseses some of the hardest striking in MMA when he is at 100% and he can also finish off an opponent after rocking them without getting too over-extended. Henderson knows this, and while this would cause normal fighters to be more cautious, Henderson is not a normal fighter and will likely be MORE aggressive so he can try to land first.
Do not expect a lot of technical wizardry to set up that sledgehammer of a right hand, just expect a lot of violence.