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Monday, June 18, 2018

Dan Henderson and Shogun Rua Put on All-Time Great Fight at UFC 139

The main event between Dan Henderson and Shogun Rua at UFC 139 in San Jose Saturday was one of the best MMA fights you will ever see. It doesn’t matter if the UFC on FOX was your intro to the sport, or if you have been a fan for years, this was a fight for the ages. If you missed the five round war that Henderson narrowly won, make sure you get to see it however you can.

I will warn you: if you’re uncomfortable with violence or are not a fan of good, competitive sport, it might not be for you.

This was two legends, two geniuses of combat, fighting with incredible heart and toughness, engaging in a back-and-forth, edge-of-your-seat performance that pushed each fighter beyond anything you can imagine. It was competitive all the way — I had Henderson winning┬áthree rounds to two, with one 10-8 round apiece.

Stylistically, the dangerous future Hall of Famer, Henderson, delivered significant punishment standing against the younger, more athletic Shogun. Hendo nearly finished the fight with his “H-Bomb” right hand in the third, before getting dominated in the fifth with brutal ground-and-pound from the mount. It’s hard to believe this fight could deliver such strong results when many pointed out beforehand it could have been a main event in PRIDE Fighting Championships five or six years ago.

Watching the fight live, I thought referee Josh Rosenthal could have stopped the fight in the third — we’re all glad he didn’t, in retrospect — but re-watching it, Shogun did defend himself intelligently despite the damage he took and letting the fight continue was the right call.

UFC President Dana White told Ariel Helwani of MMAFighting.com it could be the greatest fight of all time. I believe there is a good argument that it was, but as with any claim of that magnitude, we need some time to digest what we saw. I think it was better than Forrest Griffin-Stephen Bonnar 1, which some believe was the greatest, more for the impact it had on the sport and the heart displayed than the skill of the fighters at that time. This fight matched that fight in terms of heart. It was up there with Georges St-Pierre coming back against BJ Penn in his prime, Fedor Emilianenko meeting Mirko Cro Cop for the first time in PRIDE, Griffin upsetting Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, Anderson Silva coming back to submit Chael Sonnen or crushing Rich Franklin and anything Royce Gracie did in the Octagon. It was that good.

With the UFC in the limelight following its FOX debut, these two guys delivered a performance that we may look back on as one of the greatest and possibly one of the most important in the history of the promotion and the sport. I feel lucky to have been a part of it and if you haven’t seen it, it is a special performance.

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