Dan Henderson has cemented his place as one of the all-time greats. | Photo: D. Mandel/Sherdog.com
Light HeavyweightsDaniel Cormier (14-0, 3-0 UFC) vs. Dan Henderson (30-11, 7-5 UFC)
The Matchup: After two classic encounters -- and two victories for the man known as “Hendo” -- it is clear that Mauricio Rua brought out the best in Henderson. “Shogun” was also a good matchup for the Team Quest founder because, due to the wear-and-tear on his knees, he was not going to be able to consistently elude the former Strikeforce champion. As a result, Henderson landed plenty of big punches against the Brazilian over the course of their eight rounds in the Octagon together, the last of which smashed Rua’s nose and clinched his second win over the former Chute Boxe standout in March.
Where people were asking for Henderson to retire prior to the fight, some began to wonder whether he was suddenly a title contender following the victory -- despite Henderson having lost three of his last four fights. Such is the allure of a legend’s resume and near-mythical knockout power.
This is a very different fight for Henderson. In addition to a much quicker, agile opponent in Cormier, the two-time Greco-Roman Olympian will not be allowed to use testosterone replacement therapy for the first time in recent memory. Even with its benefits, Henderson would be an underdog against Cormier. Without it, Henderson’s performance will be monitored carefully.
Cormier had a successful 205-pound debut against Patrick Cummins at UFC 170, but there is little to be gained from studying his 79-second stoppage of the former barista. As a last-minute replacement for Rashad Evans, Cummins was simply overmatched. At the very least, Henderson figures to put up more of a fight than Cummins, but he will find it difficult to locate an opening to land his fabled H-bomb. Cormier has proven to be a quick study in MMA, and nowhere is that more evident than in his standup. The American Kickboxing Academy product has quick and powerful hands, with good footwork and quickness that belies his frame. Cormier is willing to double up on his punches, works the body well -- especially against the fence -- and has added a variety of kicks to his arsenal.
While Henderson has largely abandoned his wrestling in pursuit of the knockout over the years, Cormier can either suffocate foes in the clinch or chain together multiple takedown techniques to get the fight to the ground. Cormier is capable of outboxing Henderson, but it is possible he eliminates risk from the equation by grinding down “Hendo” instead.
The Pick: A finish of the durable veteran could help Cormier make a statement, but while it is entirely possible Henderson gets rocked, he showed against Rua that his ability to recover is still among the best in the sport. Cormier wins by decision.
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