In 37 professional appearances, Dan Henderson has never been knocked out . | File Photo
Only one man has captured Ultimate Fighting Championship gold beyond the age of 40. Dan Henderson, who turns 43 in August, wants to join Randy Couture on that exclusive list.
Henderson will toe the line against former light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida in the UFC 157 “Rousey vs. Carmouche” co-main event on Saturday at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. Little margin for error exists for the grizzled 42-year-old veteran, as he touches down inside the Octagon for the first time in more than a year.
“Just like any fight, there’s a lot on the line, and he’s definitely going to be a huge challenge,” Henderson said during a pre-fight media call. “I’m not looking past this fight. I’m making sure my game plan is there and my mind is in the right place.”
A two-time Olympian and the only man in mixed martial arts history to hold major championships in two weight classes simultaneously, Henderson will enter the cage on a four-fight winning streak and buoyed by one of the sport’s most enduring resumes. He last appeared at UFC 139 in November 2011, when he bested Mauricio Rua by unanimous decision in an epic five-round battle at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.
Henderson was booked to challenge reigning 205-pound champion Jon Jones at UFC 151 in September, but a partially torn knee ligament forced him to withdraw from the bout and ultimately led to the cancellation of the entire event. The Team Quest co-founder has spent the ensuing months rehabilitating the damage and avoiding the surgeon’s knife.
“It was very unstable,” Henderson said. “I didn’t need surgery, but that prolonged it a bit. I tried to get in and train on it and do things on it, which may have made the healing process a little bit slower. It’s good now, and I’m able to go 100 percent.”
Machida righted his ship in resounding fashion with a first-round knockout against “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 8 winner Ryan Bader at UFC on Fox 4 in August. The spectacular showing came on the heels of three losses in four appearances for the karateka. Machida views the matchup as a title eliminator, even if Zuffa brass does not.
“I believe that whoever wins out of this fight should definitely be the contender for the title,” he said. “If we’re number one and number two, the title shot should definitely be on the line with this fight.”
Machida passed up a rematch with Jones on short notice after Henderson exited UFC 151. That left “Bones” to face Vitor Belfort at UFC 152 in a less-than-desirable main event. Machida has no regrets regarding his decision.
“I had 20 days to prepare for the fight, and Jones had a full training camp,” said Machida, who was left unconscious by a standing guillotine choke from Jones at UFC 140 in December 2011. “It wasn’t the same situation. Everything happens for a reason.”
Settling Their Score
Urijah Faber has some unfinished business with Ivan Menjivar.
A little more than seven years after their first encounter resulted in Menjivar’s disqualification, the two bantamweight stalwarts will meet for a second time in a 135-pound showcase at UFC 157. Faber, who has never lost a non-title bout under Zuffa employ, remains ever confident in the skills that have led him to 26 professional victories and titles inside the World Extreme Cagefighting and King of the Cage promotions.
“I think that there are definitely parts of my game that are much better than his, some of that being speed and range,” Faber said in his pre-fight interview with UFC.com. “I feel like my hands are better than his -- and blending a lot of things better together. I don’t think he’s afraid to go to the ground with me, and I know I’m not afraid to go to the ground with him. I’ve fought some of the best submission fighters in the world, and I always had an advantage.”
A dynamic offensive fighter, Menjivar has compiled a 4-1 record since returning to the UFC in April 2011. The 30-year-old Tristar Gym representative last fought at UFC 154 in November, when he submitted Azamat Gashimov with a slick first-round armbar at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Faber anticipates a barnburner.
“I feel like this fight’s going to be all over the place,” he said. “I’m expecting a battle to the very end with him. I know what it takes to get the W.”
This & That
Women’s bantamweight champion Ronda Rousey has needed on average just 76.5 seconds to dispatch her six opponents ... By the time he steps in the cage with Josh Koscheck, former EliteXC champion Robbie Lawler will have gone 3,046 days between UFC appearances ... Born on Aug. 3, 1987, welterweight Neil Magny shares a birthday with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Metallica frontman James Hetfield, NHL hall of famer Marcel Dionne and actor Martin Sheen, among others ... “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 10 finalist Brendan Schaub played football at the University of Colorado and moved on briefly to the NFL and Arena Football League ... Kenny Robertson hails from East Peoria, Ill., the same hometown as current New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi ... All six of Michael Chiesa’s finishes have come via choke. His adversary, Finnish import Anton Kuivanen, has never submitted to a choke ... In high school, Matt Grice was a four-time state wrestling champion in Oklahoma ... Yuri Villefort, 21, will make his promotional debut in a preliminary bout with fellow Strikeforce import Nah-Shon Burrell. His older brother, Danillo Villefort, lost to Jesse Lennox via third-round technical knockout in his lone Octagon appearance in August 2009.