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By: Kale Havervold, MMATorch Contributor
Dan Henderson and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua battled for five rounds in a great fight back in November of 2011, and two and a half years later they're set to meet again. This time the fight comes to Brazil on Fox Sports 1, headlining Sunday's UFC Fight Night 38 event. A lot has changed for both fighters since that first meeting, so let's break down where they're at coming into this rematch.
Mauricio "Shogun" Rua has been one of the most dangerous strikers in MMA for almost a decade. And despite his age, he is still very dangerous. In fact, his last seven victories have all come by way of TKO/KO. Like Henderson, Shogun prefers using his punches as his prime weapon, but also likes to use kicks and knees (especially in the clinch) in order to set up combinations as well. He is a very well rounded striker and is capable of knocking anybody out.
If you polled MMA fans around the world about Dan Henderson, the first thing that would likely come to their minds would be the "H-Bomb," the nickname given to Henderson's overhand right. It's simply among the most devastating strikes in the history of MMA. Now, Henderson is 43 years old, which makes him one of the oldest competitors in MMA today. It will be interesting to see how the recent TRT ban will affect his performance in the striking department and whether it will affect his power at all, but that will be a concern for his next fight as he's the final fighter to be granted an exemption for TRT by Brazil.
ADVANTAGE – Rua (1)
Though Rua did get more takedowns in their first fight than Henderson did, that was mainly due to the fatigue of Hendo and not a lack of technique. Rua in the past has preferred to stand up when he fights, but has shown the ability to take fighters down when need be. In his last three fights, though, he has been taken down eight times, which leaves you wondering if Hendo will abandon the wild striking gameplan in favour of a more takedown oriented attack.
While Dan Henderson has some of the most powerful strikes in the UFC, he was once a very talented Greco-Roman wrestler with a Gold, Silver, and Bronze at the Pan Am games. This background is evidence that Henderson can wrestle with the best of them in the UFC's light heavyweight division. If he can maintain his composure and not gas too early in the fight, He will assert his dominance in the wrestling department.
ADVANTAGE – Henderson (1)
Both of these fighters are not particularly noted for their submission abilities, as Rua only has one submission victory in his MMA career and Henderson only has two. In terms of the grappling aspect of this fight, Shogun will sometimes dive and take risks in order to try secure leg locks, but often doesn't try finish the fight from that position. Instead, he will try to use that as a way to advance to a more dominant position.
As Mentioned earlier, neither of these fighters have won many fights via submission, but they also have not lost via submission many times, and when they have, it has been to top level talent. While Henderson may perhaps be the stronger man, don't look for him to try anything too fancy on the ground, he will likely just try to secure top position if he decides to take Shogun to the ground.
ADVANTAGE – PUSH
In their first fight, both fighters went after it in the first few rounds, which led them both to gas in the later rounds, perhaps Henderson more than Rua. Shogun has never been noted as having a great gas tank, but even when he is exhausted, he can still find ways to score points.
Normally, former high level wrestlers have some of the best conditioning in MMA, but when you throw the kind of heavy leather that Hendo does, you tend to fade a little bit quicker. This was evident in the last time these two men fought as Henderson was barely able to stay on his feet the last two rounds. If he goes out with a similar gameplan as last time, I'm afraid it may happen again.
ADVANTAGE – Rua (2)
EDGE: Shogun Rua 2-1
I believe that this fight will be quite different than the last fight, and not for the better. I think both fighters will be mindful of their fatigue levels and will likely put out less of an output than their last fight. I think Henderson could win if he imposes a wrestling based gamelan, but he seems to be content standing with fighters these days, as he attempted a total of 0 takedowns in his fights against Vitor Belfort and Rashad Evans. I like Shogun to win here by decision or maybe even a late round TKO if Hendo gasses.
PICK: Shogun Rua wins via Unanimous Decision
[Mauricio "Shogun" Rua art by Grant Gould (c) MMATorch.com]
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