By most any definition, Dan Henderson does not currently fit the description of UFC middleweight title contender.
At 45 years old with losses in six of his last nine fights, Henderson has finally allowed himself to contemplate retirement. He admitted as much following his feel-good knockout win over Hector Lombard at UFC 199 — the product of a very un-Hendo like head kick and and backward elbow in the second round.
“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,” Henderson said following his June 4 victory in Los Angeles. “I’d be satisfied if I walked away now depending on what my options are.”
However, there is at least one option that could bring the former Pride Fighting Championships star back into the Octagon without a second thought. The same night Henderson defeated Lombard, former rival Michael Bisping authored one of the year’s most shocking upsets, knocking out Luke Rockhold 3:36 into the opening round of the evening’s main event to claim 185-pound gold.
Henderson and Bisping were opposing coaches on Season 9 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” which featured a United States vs. United Kingdom theme. Bisping was at the height of his villain persona then, so when Henderson scored a vicious knockout of “The Count” in their bout at UFC 100, numerous observers reveled in the Englishman’s defeat.
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Many informal polls conducted after UFC 199 have found that Henderson is the fan favorite when it comes to selecting an opponent for Bisping’s first title defense, putting him ahead of more credentialed contenders like Ronaldo Souza, Rockhold, Chris Weidman and Yoel Romero. UFC, after all, is as much entertainment as it is sport.
“Absolutely [I’d be interested] I think that’s probably a fight I definitely would do,” Henderson said during an appearance on Sirius XM Radio’s “Toe-2-Toe" with Brian Stann. “That would by far be my last fight that I would do. That would kind of seal the deal..I don’t want to do too many more fights at all, if any, but I would definitely would do that fight and make it my last fight for sure.”
Bisping, for his part, also seems to believe there is unfinished business with Henderson, although he acknowledges the fact that the veteran knockout artists is far down the list when it comes to middleweight contenders.
“He’s still knocking people out, he’s still looking good, but he’s going to retire soon,” Bisping recently told Fox Sports Australia. “So I would love to get revenge on him before he retires. That is the only reason for wanting him next because soon he’ll be retired and then after that he can stop using that logo of me unconscious with him floating above me. I know people are going to criticize me and say that’s a cop out but for personal reasons, that one has haunted me for a long, long time.
“Then once I dispatch of the old man and I send him packing, then I can take care of ‘Jacare’ and your Weidmans and your Rockholds. They’ll still be there. They ain’t going nowhere. But Dan Henderson is on borrowed time as we speak.”