UFC 173 preview: Meet Dan Henderson, the toughest S.O.B. on the light heavyweight roster

USA TODAY Sports

14 fights. 12 current or former champions. No shortcuts.

Dan Henderson is about to make one last run at the elusive Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight title.

But when the promotion announced that "Hendo" agreed to fight Daniel Cormier at the upcoming UFC 173 pay-per-view (PPV) event, which takes place inside MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on May 24, 2014, the first comment in our announcement post looked a little something like this:

I dunno about this one....I can see Hendo getting put on his back and staying there. Please let him land another H Bomb!!! If he gets mounted, he's dead.

This is a tough fight.

Cormier is not only undefeated at 14-0, he's also a former Olympian, one who has made a career out of making his opponents look slow and overmatched. When you think he's going to shoot, he strikes. When you anticipate the strikes, he shoots.

And he's already laid waste to the best of the big men.

While the jury is still out on how far he'll go as a 205-pounder, with our only litmus test coming by way of decaf-substitute Patrick Cummings, there is no question "DC" is a world-class athlete and one of the finest mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters under ZUFFA's employ.

But then we probably shouldn't expect anything less for "Hendo."

That's one of many reasons why some fans (and pundits) are comfortable calling him one of the best of all time, a label that gets bandied about way too often in this still-developing sport, but one that may be applicable on Henderson's Octagon exploits alone.

Let's forget about the championships in PRIDE, or his win over a much larger Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in RINGS. Instead, fast-forward to his UFC return in September of 2007. His first fight right out of the gate was a title bout opposite division kingpin Quinton Jackson.

When he came up short, he dropped down a class and fought the legendary Anderson Silva.

Murderer's row.

Starting with "Rampage" at UFC 75, Henderson would embark on a 14-fight run through UFC -- with a quick pit stop in Strikeforce -- and be tasked with fighting 12 current or former division champions. That's a staggering number, and a testament to the level of competition he's faced.

Take a look:

Quinton Jackson: UFC champion (L)
Anderson Silva: UFC champion (L)
Rousimar Palhares: (W)
Rich Franklin: UFC champion (W)
Michael Bisping: (W)
Jake Shields: Strikeforce champion (L)
Renato Sobral: Strikeforce champion (W)
Rafael Cavalcante: Strikeforce champion (W)
Fedor Emelianenko: PRIDE champion (W)
Mauricio Rua: UFC champion (W)
Lyoto Machida: UFC champion (L)
Rashad Evans: UFC champion (L)
Vitor Belfort: UFC champion (L)
Mauricio Rua: UFC champion (W)

Did he run over UFC matchmaker Joe Silva's dog?

To think his "gimme" fight was a UFC 100 grudge match against perennial contender and opposing Ultimate Fighter (TUF) coach Michael Bisping, who was hit so hard, the Las Vegas bomb squad nearly shut down the MGM Grand.

"Hendo" also had a layover at UFC 88 against Rousimar Palhares, but at the time, "Toquinho" was the winner of six straight and had treated Ivan Salaverry like Quaid treated Richter on da way to da pahty.

Then we have the age discrepancy.

Henderson (30-11), now 43, has always been the older fighter, by an average of six years. It'll be eight when he faces the 35-year-old Cormier next weekend in "Sin City." The result, to date, is an 8-6 record since 2007. On paper, it may look good, but not great.

Considering the caliber of fighter he's been facing on a consistent basis, I concur, it's not great.

It's downright extraordinary.

For more on how Henderson came to be paired off against Cormier click here. To get a look at some of "Hendo's" history-making moments click here and here and stay tuned later this week for all the UFC 173 fight coverage you can handle.

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