The UFC has announced plans for a March 23rd return date in Brazil with a card headlined by the rematch between Dan Henderson and Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua. the fight will air on UFC Fight Pass as UFC Fight Night 38. The two met in November of 2011 in a match that was an instant classic that went to Henderson by judges decision. That was the last time that Henderson won a fight as he has dropped three in a row since then. Rua is 1-2 in his last three fights and is coming off a win over James Te-Huna.
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The match is going to be filled with a bit of pressure for both men. For Henderson, win or lose, it may be his swan song and final fight, as he will be 5 months from his 44th birthday.
Since their first meeting, Henderson has definitely lost a step. He had two long matches, with Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans, and he was never able to catch up with his opponents as he looked to land his big right hand. He missed all night long. In his last outing, Vitor Belfort took him out in about a minute, the first time the sturdy Henderson had been finished with strikes. The end is very near for Henderson.
Rua is widely believed to be in the later stages of his career as well, as his MMA mileage is storied. However he is 11 years younger and has 10 less fights than Henderson.
Another notable factor from their first match is that Henderson clearly won the early rounds, but he was unable to take Rua out. The fact is that Rua had his best round in the 5th, and though its not exactly fair to say, had the fight continued to a finish, it would likely have been Rua that came out on top.
Rua, at 32, is more likely to get a strong performance out of his 32 year old body than Henderson who at 43 no longer appears to have another level.