Dan Henderson (above) was shocked by the capacity of Mauricio Rua's gas tank. | Photo: Dave Mandel
Dan Henderson won a grueling five-round classic over Mauricio “Shogun” Rua on Nov. 19 at UFC 139.
Of course, as a non-title bout, the fight easily could have been scheduled for just three rounds. Henderson would have been fine with that, as he dominated much of the opening 15 minutes but lost the last 10.
Regardless, in the end Henderson scored yet another big victory, which he discussed during a recent appearance on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Savage Dog Show.”
Henderson on how tired he was in the fifth round: “I was pretty tired. I don’t know. I had something going on. I just had a little trouble breathing in that fifth round. Growing up I always had exercise-induced asthma. I haven’t really had any problems in the last few years with it. I don’t know what the issue was, other than the fact that I threw quite a few more punches than he did. … I felt like I threw a lot of punches compared to him and did a lot of damage there. That could be just a reason why I was that much more tired.”
On whether five-round non-title fights are good for the sport: “Maybe. It was a good one to watch, but I think the fans would have been talking quite a bit about it too if it ended after three rounds with him barely living through it. But yeah, I guess it made it more dramatic with him kind of coming back at the end of that fourth and fifth round. It could be good for the sport. I know there’s probably a lot more new fans that watched that fight that are hooked now.”
On whether he wants to fight five rounds in a non-title bout again: “It is what it is. I’m not really one to bitch about things like that. I just kind of go with the program and make the best of it. I was surprised with how well he stayed in there. He was in a lot better shape than what I thought he would be. Some of his past performances, he looked like he got pretty tired. Obviously he was in good shape for this one.”
On what he expected from Shogun: “I didn’t know, but I had a good feeling I’d be able to beat him up a little bit on his feet. I thought he’d kick me a little bit more than he did. I didn’t expect him to have that much left after three rounds.”
On his thoughts entering the fifth: “I pretty much thought I had the first two rounds won easily and then a possible 10-8 in the third. In the fourth round, I controlled a good part of that round. I just got caught with a nice uppercut but didn’t get knocked down or anything and I ended the round on top. I thought maybe that round could have went either way. Going into that fifth round, I knew that I pretty much had the fight sewn up without getting knocked out.”
On whether the fight should have been stopped when he had Shogun hurt: “I think [the referee] could have stopped it and I don’t think anyone would have bitched. … Honestly I don’t know how good that was for [Shogun’s] head, to take that much beating and still take more after that. That’s more of a question for the doctors and the people that are doing the head scans on him. Maybe that took a toll on his chin and he won’t be able to do that again.”
On whether the performance cements his legacy: “Honestly, I don’t have a whole lot to say about it. I just keep plugging away and trying to reach the goals I’ve set. Obviously my first choice on that last fight with Shogun wasn’t to go five rounds. I would have hoped to have knocked him out in the first two or three rounds. That’s what I was trying to do. Because the fight went the way it went with him kind of making a comeback toward the end, I think it made that fight have that status of what people are going to talk about. It wasn’t my first choice, but having gone through it and being done with it now, it worked out all right. I guess there might be a few of those in me, but those aren’t my favorite fights.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 58:10).