It appeared like the day would never come but MMA legend Dan Henderson is finally hanging up the gloves following a close loss to Michael Bisping at last weekend UFC 204. Hendo nearly went out on top as he dropped Bisping several times in the early rounds but faded down the stretch and lost a unanimous decision.
In a 47-fight career that lasted nearly two decades, Henderson had three stints with the UFC, won titles in Pride and Strikeforce and earned victories over fellow MMA legends Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Wanderlei Silva, Vitor Belfort, Rich Franklin, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Fedor Emelianenko. He’ll be remembered for his toughness, epic battles and a right hand known simply as the “H-Bomb.”
With that in mind we salute Hendo, wish him a peaceful retirement and look back at five of his most memorable MMA moments:
May 15, 1998 – Wins UFC 17 middleweight tournament
Henderson began his first stint in his on-again off-again relationship with the UFC in 1998. He entered the four-man middleweight tournament, defeating Allan Goes and former welterweight champion Carlos Newton in closely contested fights. Hendo revealed his world-renowned fighting spirit in his bout with Newton. The Canadian broke Henderson’s jaw with a punch but the MMA legend persevered and earned a split decision victory. Following this fight, Henderson spent nearly a decade competing in Japan.
Nov. 19, 2011 and March 23, 2014 – Epic showdowns with ‘Shogun’
Henderson returned to the UFC after four fights in Strikeforce and was matched up against fellow Pride veteran Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 139. The 25-minute back-and-forth brawl is widely considered one of the greatest fights in MMA history. Henderson outlasted Shogun, winning the first three rounds, before weathering a furious comeback to win a close decision.
Three years later the two met in a rematch. On the heels of a three-fight losing skid and his first knockout loss, Hendo knocked Shogun out in the third round. Henderson was repeatedly dropped and hurt by Shogun but his flash H-Bomb went down as one of the best comebacks of that year.
Feb. 24, 2007 – Becomes only fighter to hold two different titles
Well before Conor McGregor began dreaming of holding two UFC belts, Henderson had already pulled it off in Pride. Henderson first edged former UFC middleweight champion Murilo Bustamante to win the 2005 Pride welterweight grand prix to capture the promotion’s 183-pound belt. Four fights later he knocked out Wanderlei Silva to claim the Pride middleweight (205-pound) title and became the first fighter from a major MMA promotion to hold two titles in two different weight classes simultaneously.
July 30, 2011 – Knocking out the GOAT
Henderson had a brief but memorable stint with Strikeforce. After he knocked out Rafael Cavalcante to win the light-heavyweight title, he moved up to heavyweight to face the one-and-only Fedor Emelianenko. This was Hendo’s first and only time competing at heavyweight and could only bulk up to 207 pounds, just one pound above the minimum requirement for the weight class while Fedor weighed in at 223. Despite being on a two-fight losing skid, Fedor was favoured to beat Henderson. The Russian blitzed Hendo and rocked him repeatedly. It appeared Henderson was going to get finished when a wild scramble led to Henderson catching Fedor right in the chin and putting him out cold. And just like that, Hendo finished who many considered to be the greatest of his era.
July 11, 2009 – The H-Bomb heard around the world
In a 19-year career that included 16 knockouts, Henderson’s one-hitter quitter on Bisping is his most famous. Henderson and Bisping coached opposite each other on The Ultimate Fighter: United States vs. United Kingdom. Bisping constantly goaded Henderson and his team and Hendo made him pay the price at UFC 100, the biggest MMA event of all time time. Henderson unleashed one of MMA’s most iconic knockouts after he caught Bisping circling into his overhand right. After dropping Bisping, Hendo quickly followed it up with a flying punch to “shut him up a little bit.” Hendo became the first fighter to knock Bisping out and the KO has become one of the most recognized highlights in UFC history.