Former Strikeforce champ says Jones may have edge at UFC 145, but don’t count Evans out
ATLANTA – One of the biggest fights in the history of the UFC light heavyweight division takes place Saturday in Atlanta between Jon Jones and Rashad Evans. While the media grinds out pre-fight responses and the fighters prepare for a grudge match more than a year in the making, Dan Henderson bides his time and waits for what comes next.
Following this weekend’s matchup between Jones and Evans at UFC 145, Henderson will be able to set his sights on which opponent he will face for the 205-pound title. Since his epic battle at UFC 139 with another former champion, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Henderson has been waiting for his opportunity to fight for a title. With Henderson being a multi-divisional fighter, there has been speculation as to which weight class he would compete in.
UFC president Dana White has talked about a possible title shot coming in either the light heavyweight or middleweight divisions. Despite Internet chatter of Henderson taking a rematch with middleweight king Anderson Silva, the Temecula, Calif., native dismissed the thought of dropping down to 185 pounds and made it clear which belt has his attention.
“I would like to fight for the light heavyweight title,” Henderson on Wednesday told HeavyMMA in Atlanta. “I’m not really interested in fighting at middleweight right now. The only fight that makes sense is for me to fight the winner of Jones vs. Evans. That’s the fight I’m waiting for. It’s happening this weekend so hopefully we can set a date pretty soon.
“Either way, it’s going to be intriguing for me. There would definitely be two different game plans and two different approaches for the fight. A lot of people are counting Rashad Evans out of the fight with Jones, and I’ve told people that’s the wrong thing to do. I think Jones might have a little bit of an advantage, but it all depends on which Rashad Evans shows up. If he’s in shape and sticks to his game plan, I definitely think Rashad can come out with the win. I think I’d probably have a little more fun trying to figure Jones out if I fought him, but either way, if it’s Rashad it is going to be a tough fight.”
In recent weeks, on the tail end of the situation surrounding Alistair Overeem’s elevated testosterone levels in a pre-fight drug test, there has even been talk of Henderson fighting heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos at UFC 146 if Overeem is ultimately pulled from the card. While Henderson has said he would take the fight if offered, he chalked up the rumors to being the result of a Twitter conversation.
“I was just answering a tweet,” Henderson said. “Somebody asked me if I would take the dos Santos fight if they offered it to me and I said sure. That’s all I really said about it. The fight has never been offered to me or ever been talked about. Twitter was all it was.”
At 41, there isn’t much Dan Henderson has left to accomplish in the sport of mixed martial arts. But rather than fade into the twilight of his career, “Hendo” has continued to hold his place among MMA’s elite. The former Olympic wrestler has amassed one of the most impressive resumes in MMA history and rather than spend time thinking about a legacy, Henderson chooses to keep his mind on the road ahead.
“It has definitely been some work and improvement to stay at the top level for so long,” Henderson said. “I enjoy what I do and it definitely makes it easier when you enjoy what you are doing. For every fight, I just hope I perform the way I know I can. Usually things work out really well when I do.
“I don’t know if legacy really matters. I mean it does, but not a lot. I know and the people closest to me know what I’ve done in the sport. It really only matters what I think of myself. I’ve accomplished a lot, but I still have goals I want to achieve. Those are the things that drive me.
“A UFC title would definitely be nice to have. It’s the only belt I haven’t got yet. The only major belt anyway. It’s one of my goals, and hopefully that happens this year.”