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This week, readers are pondering the strange and crazy consequences that have played out in the recent MMA landscape. First of all, Jon Jones has been getting smacked around pretty good in the media for whatever role he played in the undoing of UFC 151. However, his slated opponent, Dan Henderson, came out and announced that he had suffered his MCL injury weeks earlier and trained through it. That admission from “Hendo” has some of you in a huff, wondering how the Olympian got off scot-free.
Neither Jones nor Henderson likely thought their decisions would impact the entire UFC 151 undercard, but they did. As such, those fights have been quickly and neatly rescheduled for upcoming UFC cards. However, your emails are asking whether or not some fighters lucked out, getting to fight closer to home or with some perks that UFC 151 just would not have offered them.
Negative externalities are spilling into the Bellator roster, courtesy of bantamweight champion Eduardo Dantas. “Dudu’s” decision to take a tune-up in his Rio backyard at Shooto Brazil 33 on Aug. 25 turned out to be a disaster. Hawaiian transplant Tyson Nam planted his fist square on the 23-year-old Nova Uniao prodigy and put him to bed, marring arguably the most promising young fighter on the Bellator roster. Naturally, many of you are curious if Dantas’ upset loss means that other Bellator standouts are going to have the kibosh put on their MMA extracurriculars.
Speaking of unexpected consequences, who would have ever imagined Andrei Arlovski and Tim Sylvia’s fourth clash -- a fight mocked and bemoaned by onlookers beforehand -- would lead to an improbable fifth bout in their rivalry? More incredibly, who would have ever expected that the exploits of their fourth fight might even have built some anticipation for such a strange contest?
Some of the unintended outcomes of One FC 5 were grimmer, however. After watching yet another Jens Pulver knockout loss, it was refreshing to hear “Lil’ Evil” tell the Filipino crowd he was only looking to have another fight or two before hanging up the gloves. You are skeptical, though, and, frankly, so are we.
Am I hearing right that Dan Henderson had this knee injury for weeks before he pulled out of UFC 151? How is he getting off scot-free here? Jon Jones is getting killed in public by his boss, UFC President Dana White, and every other fighter on the UFC roster. Meanwhile, Henderson is still an All-American hero. If he pulled out two weeks ago, maybe this wouldn’t be such a debacle. Am I off-base in thinking “Hendo” deserves some blame here? -- Augie from Philadelphia
Brian Knapp, features editor: There is plenty of blame to go around regarding the UFC 151 cancellation fiasco. Yes, according to published reports, Henderson was injured several weeks before the bout and may have averted what became a financial and public relations disaster for the UFC by withdrawing immediately. In that sense, he deserves some responsibility for what unfolded.
However, one has to remember that Henderson is one of the sport’s fiercest competitors, a man who, to my knowledge, has never withdrawn from a match. At 42, this may have been his last legitimate shot at a major championship in mixed martial arts. Such opportunities are not to be taken lightly. It only stands to reason that Henderson would try to will his body to the finish line: in this case, his five-round bout with Jones at UFC 151. I doubt it ever crossed his mind that by doing so he was risking the stability of an entire event. After all the UFC has lost a headliner before and moved right along.
Should Henderson shoulder some of the blame? Sure, I can see how rational people would arrive at that conclusion. However, the guilt ultimately lies not with Jones or Henderson but the promotion itself. It constructed a house of cards and watched it fall. Lesson learned, we hope.
Henderson’s place as an “All-American hero” was secured a long time ago and, certainly, his desire to try and fight through an injury will do nothing to change it. The man built a rock-solid reputation on fighting anyone at any time at any weight. You have to have a serious set of stones to climb into the cage with Anderson Silva, Wanderlei Silva, Fedor Emelianenko, Mauricio Rua, Vitor Belfort and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Henderson fought them all.
With UFC 151, his pride and determination worked against him, as, for once, his body could not live up to the heart and desire housed within it. Because of what Henderson has accomplished and meant to the sport, he has earned a little longer leash.
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