MMA legend Dan Henderson (30-11) showed how tough a competitor he is when went into Shogun Rua’s back yard in Natal, Brazil, on Sunday night, nearly got stopped at the end of the first round before ending affairs himself in the third with a right hook.
Light heavyweight Rua (22-9) was peppering the 43-year-old Henderson with punishing leg kicks in the first round, but the American kept moving forward looking for an opening. He nearly found it at the end of the round but was stung by a huge counter overhand right/left hook combination that left him seriously hurt. Rua went to finish it, but Henderson managed to offer some defense, enough to convince referee Herb Dean not to stop the fight.
Hendersons corner implored him to wrestle more, but the combination of leg kicks and the punishing end to the first stanza made it difficult for him to execute those orders. The second round also had some tough moments for Henderson, none more painful than when he got floored with an uppercut. But again, he survived. In the third round, Henderson got the chance he was waiting for. Separating from a clinch, Ruas guard was low and Henderson whipped a right hook that caught the Brazilian flush on the nose.
Rua went down, and though he offered some defense to the barrage of shots he was taking, Dean stepped in and called a halt to proceedings with 1:31 gone on the third. Speaking in the octagon after the fight, Henderson, who was on a three-fight losing streak coming in to this one, underlined how important the win was to him given the quality of the man he beat.
UFC President Dana White was happy with how the promotion went:
There were some serious fireworks on the undercard, the highlight of which was this knee kick from Godofredo Pepey on Noad Lahat that ended this featherweight contest: