Dan Henderson has secured his place in the annals of mixed martial arts (MMA) history.
Sure, the longtime combat sports legend didn't win the middleweight title, despite a decision that could have easily swung in his favor, but "Hendo" left the UFC 204 pay-per-view (PPV) main event with a moral victory last Saturday night (Oct. 8, 2016) inside Manchester Arena in Manchester, England.
Watch the replay here.
Ruining Michael Bisping for the second time and capturing the crown would have been much better, obviously, but last night's outcome -- in which he dropped the champ on two separate occasions -- surely beats winning the belt by way of shady decision, or getting throttled by the younger, brasher Brit.
His gritty, "Fight of the Night" performance against "The Count" was important, especially when considering how inconsistent Henderson has performed in the twilight of his career.
But now the UFC 204 extravaganza is in the books and Henderson, who held championship titles in PRIDE FC and Strikefore, will ride off into the sunset. "That was the last time anyone will see me fight live," the elder statesman told Brian Stann after all was said and done.
Have a look.
Thank You @DanHendo! #Respect #UFC204 https://t.co/B6HBKqwCYo— UFC (@ufc) October 9, 2016
Henderson, 46, finishes with a career record of 32-15. 16 of those 32 wins have come by way of knockout/technical knockout with just another two by submission, both coming before the year 2000. But that hardly tells the tale when looking back at the career of one of the founding fathers of Team Quest.
Not by a long shot.
A decorated wrestler with national titles in Greco-Roman Wrestling, Henderson competed in the 1992 Olympics, then again in the 1996 summer games. No doubt that pedigree, which faded in favor of heavy leather in his later years, helped kickstart his career when he crossed over to MMA in 1997.
The result was a 12-1 start.
Some of his biggest victories came over bigger competition. Standing just 5'11" with a 74-inch reach, "Hendo" was able to beat Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira -- one of the most feared heavyweights of the PRIDE era -- en route to capturing the Rings: "King of Kings" tournament in 2000.
Fast-forward 11 years and he would upset another PRIDE legend in Fedor Emelianenko.
There was a reason they called his big right hand the "H-Bomb" and no victory better captures its devastating power than his knockout win over Wanderlei Silva at PRIDE 33 back in 2007. That performance helped carry him to back-to-back title fights under the ZUFFA banner when the Japanese-based promotion was purchased by its stateside rivals.
He probably wasn't the most well-liked guy in Brazil, also beating Vitor Belfort and Mauricio Rua, among others.
With a fan-favorite fighting style and an aggressive attack, you could probably spend an entire afternoon talking about Henderson's career highlights, which is why the 185-pound title is more like costume jewelry than an affirmation of his MMA greatness.
His legacy is secure and his ability to finagle a division title shot was not the "joke" many expected it to be.
Hendersons a G ...— Nathan Diaz (@NateDiaz209) October 9, 2016
See you in the Hall of Fame.