At last, we reach the top of the mountain, and there we find the one and only Henderson, the purest and sweetest puncher the sport of MMA has ever seen. His style has drawn comparisons to boxing great Rocky Marciano -- and with good reason. Henderson and Marciano share a similar crouched, side-on stance and cocked right hand, and the attendant wallop in their weapon of choice almost defies description.
The Team Quest product’s right hand is the cleanest in the history of the sport, not because of its technical perfection -- Henderson often finds himself off-balance or unable to follow up after throwing it -- but because he is so freakishly good at putting all of his weight behind the shot. He also has an incredibly underrated ability to steer his opponents into that right hand.
Take Henderson’s iconic knockout of Michael Bisping as an example. He threw an inside low kick, a left hook and then he fired off the inside low kick again. Bisping responded by circling away from it, into Henderson’s right side; a split second later, Henderson’s overhand caught the Brit square on the chin. The inside low kick both moved Bisping into the path of the punch and also allowed Henderson to get all of his weight moving into the H-bomb, and a stunning finish was the result.
Henderson’s array of clever tricks extends beyond an inside low kick. He is perhaps the best in the sport’s history at throwing on clinch entries and exits, as his second fight with Mauricio Rua demonstrates. “Shogun” had dominated Henderson for the entirety of the fight, dropping him twice and nearly finishing on the ground in the first two rounds. When they briefly clinched -- it was one of the first times it had happened, as the cautious Brazilian attempted to maintain distance -- in the third, however, Henderson unloaded a thunderous right hand on the break in the brief instant that “Shogun’s” left hand dropped.
It was a clever trick of the kind that the veteran has mastered over his nearly 18 years in the sport, and it neatly sums up the purity of his punching.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Paul Daley, Wanderlei Silva, Roy Nelson, Mauricio Rua, Igor Vovchanchyn, Shane Carwin, Hector Lombard, David Abbott, Drew McFedries
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