Dan “Hendo” Henderson vs. Maurício “Shogun” Rua

Posted: November 17, 2011 in Pre-fight Comparisons, UFC 139
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UFC 139 Main Event:  Dan Henderson vs  Maurício “Shogun” Rua

Dan Henderson and Shogun Rua will step into the cage November 19th, 2005.   Oh, shit, it’s 2011 actually.  Even though many MMA legends are no longer competing at the highest level, these two are.  Henderson turned 41 this August and unfortunately for Mr. Rua, his right hand hasn’t detached from his arm with old age.  Dan has won 6 out of his last 7 bouts and is riding a 3 fight winning streak.  And while Shogun may have the knees of a 50 year old football player, his striking is still at an elite level.  Shogun absolutely destroyed Forrest Griffin when they fought in Brazil, but the fight was so short it is hard to tell how his condition really is.  Rua is (amazingly) only 29 years old so hopefully with a combination of youth and time to heal, we will see Shogun at his peak.

Striking

Dan Henderson has a right hand that you tell children about to scare them.  ”Brush your teeth otherwise Dan Henderson’s right hand!”  It is one of the most famous tools in MMA.  But the key to Henderson’s success is that he set’s up his best punch.  He has very good boxing and relies on it as his main stand-up weapon.  But this allows Shogun to concentrate on two attacking directions, as Hendo doesn’t throw many knees, kicks, or elbows while standing up.  Compare that to Shogun’s 8 tools of destruction.  There are more angles and directions that Hendo has to worry about.

If you were going to make a video game, Shogun would be the Muay Thai master.  His technique is phenomenal with crisp punches, sharp kicks, and good head movement.  You can see he is on a different planet even when he spars (if you haven’t, you need to watch him spar with W. Silva and dos Santos).  Shogun has always taken apart fighters who are primarily strikers.  Just ask Overeem, Rampage, and Machida how their face feels after a fight with Shogun.  I’m not a doctor but it doesn’t look good.

Advantage:  Shogun

Grappling

There are three types of wrestlers in the UFC, good wrestlers, great wrestlers, and Olympic wrestlers.  Dan Henderson was an Olympic wrestler.  An Olympic wrestler!  Take a minute to think about what that means.  He was one of the top ten most skilled human beings at Greco-Roman style wrestling.  That shits crazy, son!  Since 1996, Henderson has been practicing how to adapt his wrestling into a murder weapon.  He now uses it to keep it in on the feet so he can box and take away opponents kicks, but I don’t suspect he will do the same against Shogun.  IF Henderson can take Shogun down, expect him to control the position and grind on Shogun.

Shogun isn’t exactly a living room sofa though.  He will use his BJJ in a defensive manner to try to sweep or threaten submissions to get off his back.  He might even use his Judo to throw off Dan’s game plan.  Shogun has some nice Judo trips and nasty ground and pound.  Shogun loves to play soccer with other people’s heads but the UFC doesn’t allow kicks to the head of a downed opponent.  So even though Shogun is outmatched on paper, don’t be surprised if he pulls a BJ Penn and takes down the wrestler first.

Advantage:  Henderson

Condition

Both fighters have had their issues with injuries.  Shogun has had a series of knee injuries and Henderson has had back problems.  But both are also a few fights away from their respective injuries so they should be in good condition.  Henderson is one of the strongest fighters at 185.  This fight is at 205 however.  With that said, I still give Henderson the strength advantage.  He is an ex-Olympian.  His muscle tissue is made out of titanium alloy.

But what about his gas tank?  Henderson is on the wrong side of 40 and has lost every 5 round fight he has been in (this also being a 5 round fight).  The old boxing saying is that the head stays hard but the body doesn’t.  Shogun is a master at attacking the body and legs.  Machida’s body looked like hamburger after 5 rounds.  But wasn’t it Shogun who looked exhausted after one of Jon Jones’ knees landed?  At this stage of their careers, I give Shogun a slight advantage on cardio but Henderson an advantage on strength.

Advantage:  Henderson (slight)

The Match-up

It’s Shogun’s Muay Thai versus Henderson’s boxing and wrestling.  Henderson has had a some trouble with elite strikers in the past.  His fights with Rampage, Silva, and Nogueira stand out as examples.  Usually in the striker versus grappler match-up, the advantage is with the grappler.  But Shogun is too quick and fires off his shots with little set up.  It will be difficult to get Shogun to the ground.  All Henderson needs is one punch, but Shogun has never been caught will just one punch.

75% chance of KO by Shogun Rua with a 25% chance of unanimous decision victory by Dan Henderson.

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