UFC 139: A breakdown of Dan Henderson versus Mauricio Rua


 On Saturday, November 12th, 2011 UFC 139: 'Henderson vs. Shogun'  takes place live on pay per view from San Jose, California. It will be business as usual as the UFC invades the orginal stomping grounds of Strikeforce with some familiar faces.


It will be the first meeting between the two former PRIDE and UFC veterans who have ventured off different paths since the Zuffa LLC purchase of the Japanese promotion in 2005. While in PRIDE each had success and both have had their ups and downs since joining the largest fight promotion, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC).

In this break down i will look at striking, grappling and several other keys and give my BOLD prediction who you should lay your money on this Saturday

Find out after the jump



Henderson wins by KO/TKO: 13
Rua wins by KO/TKO: 17

Dan Henderson is known for his brutal right hand which has laid some of the sports best out and given highlight reel knockouts like Michael Bisping at UFC 100 and being the only man to knockout Fedor Emilanenko at Strikeforce: 'Fedor vs. Henderson".

His striking isn't a puzzle match but rather him imposing his will against your best shot. If not for his iron chin he may have been on the worst end of many fights. His best shot and seemingly only use of striking is in the form of an overhand right.

This past Saturday at UFC on FOX we saw Junior dos Santos use an overhand right to earn his first UFC heavyweight title when he knocked out Cain Velasquez. Former UFC light-heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell used an overhand right to defeat many of his opponents.

'Hendo' sets up his overhand right with not a jab and he doesn't put it in a nice combo, Henderson tends to use a left kick to the inside of his opponents lead leg and pounces. Henderson is very lanky and thin for a light heavyweight but ask his partners like Randy Couture and they will tell you he has 'gorilla strength'.

Maurico Rua has been one of the most exciting strikers in the past 10 years of MMA. He has all sorts of tricks he developed in his early days at Chute Boxe from jumping kicks to spinning jumping kicks. His most notable knockouts include a muay thai clinic put on former light heavyweight champion Quinton Jackson at PRIDE Total Elimination 2005 and a devastating hooking put on Lyoto Machida at UFC 113.

Between October 5th, 2003 to August 28th, 2005 'Shoigun' was undefeated in 8 fights and of those 8 consecutive wins he had seven KO/TKO stoppages. He didn't knockout just average guys, he knocked some of the best in the world at the time. Akira Shoji (soccer kicks), Akihiro Gono (soccer kicks), Quinton Jackson (soccer kicks), Alistair Overeem (punches) and Ricardo Arona (punches) to name a few of the notables during this stretch. As you can see 'Shogun' had a passion for the soccer kicks which are banned under the Unified Rules which the UFC adhere to.

Shogun tends to enjoy hooks these days as he hasn't shown much of his clinch work since PRIDE. He has some of the best leg kicks and all most won the UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 104 against Lyoto Machida with a heavy kicking gameplan. We also haven't seen the same 'risk versus reward ' mentality for Rua who use to throw ninja like kicks when the opportunity presented itself.

Dan Henderson losses by KO/TKO: 0
Mauricio Rua loses by KO/TKO: 2 (1 by injury)

Both have a very low number of losses due to strikes but Henderson has never been beat by KO/TKO. We have seen him essentially walk through strikes which would have capsized other fighters sail's. To be fair one of Shogun's losses in the KO/TKO column was a freak arm injury against Mark Coleman at PRIDE 32: 'Unbreakable" (Ironic, i know) and the other was a beat down at the hands of current UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones.

Henderson's last three wins since going back to the mean streets of 205 all were by KO/TKO which includes Renato Sobral, Rafael Calvacante and Fedor. He dominated Sobral, took huge shots from 'Fejao' and sent Fedor back to Russia with no love.

Edge: Dan Henderson, The chin and that right could do anyone in at this moment at light heavyweight including Jon Jones. Shogun hasn't been great since joining the UFC but has been one of the best light heavyweights since joining regardless.



Henderon wins by submission: 2
Rua wins by submission: 1

Now there is much more to grappling then just jui jitsu and various submissions. There is take downs, positional battles and working your way back up to you feet.

Dan Henderson is an Olympian in Greco-Roman but don't get fooled and think you will seem him shoot for double legs and single legs. Henderson has a very good clinch game (enough to make (Clinch Gear) and will sweep guys if need be. He is able to win most if not all grappling exchanges. His take down defense is all superb as his game is much like Chuck Liddell during his best run.

The flaw with Henderson is that with his questionable cardio, getting off his back can be troublesome. At Strikeforce: 'Nashville' we saw former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Sheilds survive Henderson's flurry and keep Henderson on his back throughout the fight for the next four rounds.

Rua hasn't faced many wrestlers other then Hammer House alum Mark Coleman and Kevin Randleman. The one guy who we saw dominate Rua from top control was Jon Jones at UFC 126 where he lost the UFClight heavyweight championship. He struggled with Coleman in their rematch but striking proved to be the difference. He nearly broke Randleman's leg with a kneebar. He used excellent top position to pound out Arona for his highly acclaimed run in the 2005 PRIDE middleweight grand prix. He holds a black belt under Nino Schembri who reigns as the Chute Boxe jui jitsu coach.

Dan Henderson losses by submission:3
Mauricio Rua losses by submission:2

Henderson has losses of the submission variety to three Black House Members, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (PRIDE 24,Armbar)), Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (PRIDE Total Elimination 2005, Armbar) and Anderson Silva (PRIDE 82, Rear Naked Choke). Now these fights were competitive but Dan on his back is like a turtle. His conditioning at 185 wasn't great and Anderson Silva made him pay for a first round scare by choking 'Hendo'.

Rua has two losses of the submission variety to the hands of BJJ specialist Renato Sobral (IFC: Global Domination, guillotine choke) and Forrest Griffin (UFC 76, Rear Naked Choke). As you can see Rua gets caught in chokes but much of this is due to poor condition. At UFC 76, he was outworked by a hungrier Griffin and suffered a huge loss when he was talked about as the best light heavyweight in the world. At IFC:Global Domination he made it to the finals of a tournament so an accumulation of fights is a little more warranted

Edge: Mauricio Rua As long as Rua doesn't get tired his BJJ is much better then Henderson. These days Hendohas went from being well-rounded to a heavy handed striker with a granite chin. Rua's top game isn't amazing but his variety on the ground is much more dangerous then Henderson's.

The Variables:

-Common opponents: a great way and sometimes deceiving way to see how a fighter hangs with another. Sometimes a fighter just simply matches better with an opponent another doesn't. In head to head combat here's how it beaks down:

Henderson (4-3) Wins over Renato Sobral (x2), Akihiro Gono and Nakamura. Losses to Ricardo Arona, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Quinton Jackson

Rua (5-1) Wins over Quinton Jackson, Akhiro Gono, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, Ricardo Arona and Nakamura. Lost to Renato Sobral

Edge: Mauricio Rua

-Past five fights, another good indication i looking at the recent streak a fighter is on. I truly believe Junior dos Santos was not going to lose at UFC on FOX due to the absolute momentum he had his way. Let's break down the past five for each fighter

Henderson (4-1) wins over Fedor (KO, Rafael Calvacante (KO), Renato Sobral (KO) and Michael Bisping (KO) and lost to Jake Shields (Decision)

Rua (3-2) wins over Forrest Griffin (KO), Lyoto Machida (KO), Chuck Liddell (TKO) and losses to Lyoto Machida (Decision) and Jon Jones (TKO)

Edge: Mauricio Rua


-Cardio, the bread and butter of every fighter and something that has been questioned in both fighter is their cardio endurance. Each have had long fought rounds and survived the PRIDE ten minute round opener. Each have survived the championship and late rounds of the UFC.

When i look at each fighter i just feel Henderson's cardio at 205 is better and he looked strong even late in the Fejao fight. The last time he looked completely gassed was at middleweight against Jake Sheilds. He survived two 15 minute fights at UFC 17 and being a wrestler helps.

Rua has either completely gassed or has struggled when a fight goes longer then two rounds. He looked decent at a much slower pace against Machida at UFC 104 but looked like he almost passed out at UFC 93 but fortunately Coleman's cardio was even worse. He lost to Griffin at UFC 76 due to being out hustled from bell to bell.

Edge: Dan Henderson


After breaking down this fight based upon these factors i feel the streak, cardio and gameplanning will be in the favor of 'Hendo'. He has simplified hi game, used striking when needed, survived tough sports and used his chin to his advantage and not test it too much. He emerged from under a swarming Fedor, diminished or not that isn't easy. He also knocked out Fedor with a right that nobody could see coming from that position.

Rua hasn't sold me yet that he was ever the best light heavyweight but don't get me wrong, he is still an elite fighter. His striking is dangerous not crisp and he head hunts. He did dominate Griffin much more then expected but i'm not sold. He looked attrocious versus Jon Jones and though people lose to Jones with ease these days, he was slaughtered in every aspect.

I am taking Dan Henderson via TKO (punches) Round 2

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