Dan Henderson, a two-division world champion in PRIDE, is left wondering what might have been had his fight with Jon Jones not been called off all those years ago.
Henderson, now 53, was slated to fight Jones for the UFC’s light heavyweight title in September 2012 during arguably the most successful run of his MMA career. Between 2008 and late 2011, Henderson won seven of eight fights — including victories over some of the sport’s greatest names like Fedor Emelianenko, Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua, Michael Bisping and Rich Franklin.
The fight against Jones would not take place, however, after Henderson withdrew just nine days beforehand after he sustained an tear to his MCL — prompting the UFC 151 event to be cancelled altogether after Jones opted against fighting a replacement in Chael Sonnen.
The situation is one of the great regrets of Henderson’s career, he says, and could have added him to a very small list of fighters to have earned world titles in both the UFC and PRIDE.
“That’s the one fight I wish I would’ve had that I never had,” Henderson said in an interview with ESPN. “I was probably the most prepared for that fight that I’ve ever been. Just kind of blew my knee out a little bit before the fight. It happened about three, three-and-a-half weeks before the fight when I hurt my knee.
“Still had the idea that I was going to be able to fight. It would’ve been tough, but I would’ve gotten it done. My team kind of talked some sense into me. It just wasn’t a smart idea. That’s the only fight I’ve ever pulled out of after a 20-year career. So I was kind of bummed.”
But had they stepped in the cage together, Henderson is of the opinion that Jones would not have been able to withstand his famed ‘H-Bomb’ overhand.
“I was 100 percent certain I was going to beat the f*ck out of him,” Henderson said. “I absolutely would have beat him up in my mind. I was so prepared, not just physically prepared but tactically, my game plan, everything. And being used to longer guys, I just was so ready, and I think all my training partners would attest to that.”