Even at 45 years old, Dan Henderson is capable of showing off new tricks in the Octagon.
The former Pride Fighting Championships two-division titlist shook off a rough start to knock out Hector Lombard 1:27 into the second round of their featured middleweight encounter at UFC 199 in Los Angeles on Saturday night. It wasn’t the fact that Henderson won that was so surprising, however. It was the manner in which he finished his opponent that was unconventional according to his normal standards.
Instead of relying on his trademark right hand, Henderson connected with a head kick and followed up with a backward elbow to put Lombard to sleep. The 46-fight veteran punctuated the victory with one final forearm strike before referee Herb Dean was able to halt the bout.
“I’ve never landed a head kick in a fight,” Henderson said in an interview on Fox Sports 1. “I’ve thrown a few, but I’m typically not that flexible. He was short enough. I land some in practice every once in a while. I kind of feinted a little off of my right hand when they try and slip that and I threw it. I think it knocked him a little bit silly. I just saw his head out of the corner of my eye and threw a reverse elbow that I’ve never thrown in practice, either.”
Henderson nearly didn’t make it that point. After staggering the Cuban with a right hand in round one, he rushed in to capitalize only to be rocked himself with a short left hand. Things looked even more dire later in the round after Lombard dropped the Team Quest founder with a clean left hook. Henderson was granted plenty of leeway to hang on, and that ultimately paid off in the ensuing stanza.
“I have to look at it to see for sure, but I felt like I knew what was going on. I was definitely wobbling and had trouble standing up straight, but I felt like I was doing enough to stay in there,” Henderson said. “Herb Dean’s reffed a number of my fights that I’ve been hurt in and lets me work out of it. I always appreciate when he’s the ref and don’t get it stopped to soon.”
Still, all of Henderson’s stoppage defeats have occurred within the past three years. While Henderson proved on Saturday that he is still plenty dangerous, he also acknowledged that the end of his fighting career could be imminent.
“It all depends on negotiating with the UFC. I want to stay involved in the sport. I want to stay active and I need a paycheck, so that all depends on what my options are after this,” he said. “I’m more than capable of still fighting if I want to. I know I can beat some of the top guys, but this is the first time I’ve said this in my career: This could actually be the last one. I’d be satisfied if I walked away now depending on what my options are.”