Light heavyweight title fight to headline expected UFC 151 card at Mandalay Bay
Jones, who is less than three weeks removed from his unanimous decision title defense victory over Rashad Evans at UFC 145 in Atlanta, will take on Henderson, the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champ, on Sept. 1 in Las Vegas. The pay-per-view event is expected to be numbered as UFC 151 and is expected to take place at the Mandalay Bay Events Center.
UFC president Dana White announced the date and fight booking late Wednesday on his Twitter account. White had said prior to Jones’ fight with Evans that Henderson would face the winner, and he reiterated that after Jones’ win – but without a date.
Against Evans in a highly anticipated grudge match against his former friend and training partner, Jones (16-1, 10-0 UFC) had to go the distance for the first time since a January 2009 win over Stephan Bonnar. But he came out with a unanimous decision win over Evans, a former champion. The buildup to that fight included a pair of title defenses against former champs Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Lyoto Machida, both of which took place due to injuries and scheduling abnormalities with Evans, who had been the No. 1 contender even when Jones filled in for him at UFC 128 to challenge Mauricio “Shogun” Rua for the belt.
Henderson (29-8, 6-2 UFC) will have just turned 42 when he challenges Jones, who will be 25, for the one title he has never held. Henderson returned to the UFC last fall and beat Rua in a five-round war at UFC 139 that was instantly regarded as one of the best fights in history. Earlier this spring, White said there were few fighters who could ask for a title shot and be granted one based largely on merit, but Henderson was one of those fighters. Though there was talk that Henderson might face either the Jones-Evans winner or possibly the Anderson Silva-Chael Sonnen winner for the middleweight title, shortly before the Jones-Evans fight he said light heavyweight was where he would be.
Henderson left the UFC in 2009 for Strikeforce and lost a middleweight title fight to Jake Shields. But after that, he won three straight in the promotion, including the light heavyweight title against Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante. He also knocked out Fedor Emelianenko last July before opting to re-sign with the UFC.
Henderson was a welterweight and middleweight champion in Pride, the Strikeforce light heavyweight champ, a Rings King of Kings tournament winner and a UFC tournament winner, but the one major title that has eluded him is a UFC title. He lost a light heavyweight title fight against Jackson at UFC 75 and a middleweight title fight against Silva at UFC 82, his only two losses in the UFC.
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