Dan Henderson can still bring the heat.
The former two-division Pride Fighting Championships titleholder smashed Tim Boetsch with first-round punches in the UFC Fight Night “Boetsch vs. Henderson” main event on Saturday at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans. Henderson brought it to a close just 28 seconds after it began, recording the second-fastest finish of his 18-year career; only Ryo Chonan fell quicker.
Boetsch walked right into the Team Quest patriarch’s nuclear right hand, as fist struck chin and buckled his knees. Henderson then grazed him with a knee from the collar tie before uncorking a jarring right uppercut that sent “The Barbarian” crashing to the canvas. From there, the conclusion was a formality. Boetsch ate one right hand after another at the base of the cage, and while he never lost consciousness, his situation could not have been more hopeless. Referee Dan Miragliotta soon moved in for the save. The 34-year-old Team Irish representative has lost five of his past seven bouts, leaving his future in the Ultimate Fighting Championship in doubt.
In wake of UFC Fight Night “Boetsch vs. Henderson,” here are six matchups that ought to be considered:
Related » UFC Fight Night Bonuses
Dan Henderson vs. Michael Bisping: Henderson can only turn back the clock for so long. The rout of Boetsch notwithstanding, his time as an upper-tier contender has long since run its course. As such, few matches make sense for the soon-to-be 45-year-old Californian. Henderson’s past history with Bisping dates back to Season 9 of “The Ultimate Fighter” in 2009, their heated rivalry culminating with one of the most violent knockouts in MMA history at UFC 100. Win or lose against Thales Leites in their UFC Fight Night headliner on July 18, Bisping would almost certainly jump at the opportunity to right one of his wrongs.
Ben Rothwell vs. Alexey Oleinik: Though Rothwell still has his doubters, no one can argue with the recent results. The hulking 33-year-old Wisconsin native extended his winning streak to three fights in the co-headliner, as he submitted Matt Mitrione with a first-round front choke. Rothwell has compiled a 5-3 record since arriving in 2009, losing only to Cain Velasquez, Mark Hunt and Gabriel Gonzaga. Oleinik, 37, has rattled off 11 consecutive victories, all of them finishes. Rothwell could also serve as a viable replacement should either Josh Barnett or Roy Nelson bow out of their UFC Fight Night booking in September.
Dustin Poirier vs. Bobby Green-Al Iaquinta winner: Poirier has looked like a new man since returning to the lightweight division. The American Top Team standout made quick work of Yancy Medeiros, slashing through the Hawaiian with clean, accurate punches 2:38 into the first round of their battle at 155 pounds. The stoppage against Medeiros followed a first-round knockout on Carlos Diego Ferreira on April 4. Poirier, 26, now sports 15 finishes among his 18 professional victories. Green and Iaquinta will lock horns at UFC Fight Night “Mir vs. Duffee” on July 15 in San Diego.
Brian Ortega vs. Noad Lahat-Niklas Backstrom winner: A few more performances like this one and Ortega will have completely shed his prospect label. The former Resurrection Fighting Alliance champion put the most significant win of his career in the books as a short-notice replacement for Zubaira Tukhugov, dispatching Thiago Tavares with third-round punches in an excellent clash at 145 pounds. Ortega survived a few harrowing exchanges on the ground and exacted a heavy toll from his back, opening a gnarly diagonal gash above the Brazilian’s right eye with an elbow strike from the bottom prior to the stoppage. The American Kickboxing Academy’s Lahat will face Backstrom at UFC Fight Night “Jedrzejczyk vs. Penne” on June 20 in Berlin.
Francisco Rivera vs. Eddie Wineland-Bryan Caraway winner: Rivera has dynamite in his hands, this much we know. The 33-year-old Californian needed all of 21 seconds to take out “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 12 quarterfinalist Alex Caceres with punches, putting an end to his two-fight losing streak. The effort helped ease the pain that remains from Rivera’s controversial loss to former World Extreme Cagefighting champion Urijah Faber in December, when he was inadvertently poked in the eye before being bulldog choked into submission. Wineland and Caraway will duke it out at UFC on Fox 16 in late July.
Anthony Birchak vs. Cody Garbrandt-Enrique Briones: Birchak made an example of Joe Soto, as he cut down the onetime Bellator MMA titleholder with punches 97 seconds into the first round of their main-card duel. “El Toro” dropped Soto with a short right hook and went to work, avoiding an attempted kneebar before the two men returned to an upright position. Once there, Birchak backed the Californian to the cage and unloaded with standing elbows and punches until Soto was facedown and unconscious on the canvas. Garbrandt and Briones will square off at UFC 189 on July 11 in Las Vegas.