Henderson could challenge at either 205 or 185, White says
UFC president Dana White on Tuesday told HeavyMMA’s Megan Olivi that Henderson, the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion, wants a title shot – and he’ll get one. But whether that shot comes at light heavyweight or at middleweight is still up in the air.
White told Olivi after a press conference for May’s UFC 146 event in Las Vegas that Henderson may be tapped to fight the winner of the UFC 145 main event light heavyweight title fight between champion Jon Jones and Rashad Evans. Henderson has been outspoken in recent weeks that he believes he was more deserving of the spot Evans is in. Henderson vacated his Strikeforce 205-pound title, which he won a year ago, to return to the UFC last fall after finishing off his Strikeforce run with a TKO victory over Fedor Emelianenko in July.
But White said Henderson dropping to middleweight, where he has competed frequently in his long career, also remains a possibility. At 185, Henderson would get a title shot against the winner of Anderson Silva vs. Chael Sonnen, which takes place in June in Brazil. Henderson fought Silva at UFC 82, losing by second-round rear naked choke in a bout that unified his Pride welterweight title with Silva’s UFC middleweight belt.
“Dan Henderson will get the winner of (Jones-Evans) – or of the Anderson Silva (vs. Sonnen) fight,” White said. “Dan Henderson just wants a title shot. Here’s the thing. I offered Dan Henderson two fights, (but) Dan Henderson wants this (title) fight. Normally I don’t do that. Guys don’t sit around and wait or pick their fights. There’s been very specific cases where that has happened, and it’s guys who have earned it or deserve it – and Dan Henderson is one of those guys. Henderson has been around forever, he’s 40-something years old, he’s been knocking guys out left and right. And if he wants to sit around and wait for this title shot, he can do it.”
Henderson, who will turn 42 in August, last fought at UFC 139 in November in an epic five-round main event against Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Henderson won a unanimous decision in a fight that saw big swings of momentum, with each fighter nearly finishing the other. The fight became an instant classic and White said immediately after that it was one of the best fights in MMA history.
That fight was the Californian’s first in the UFC after leaving the promotion for Strikeforce in 2009 after not coming to terms with the UFC for a new contract. In Strikeforce, Henderson got an immediate title shot against Jake Shields for the middleweight belt. But despite nearly finishing Shields in the first round, Shields turned things around and took a unanimous decision. Henderson moved back to light heavyweight, where he knocked out Renato “Babalu” Sobral, then stopped Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante a year ago to win the promotion’s 205-pound title as a 40-year-old.