HENDERSON vs. RUA 2
It wasn’t a repeat of their first meeting over two years ago in terms of a sustained 25 minutes of action, but Sunday, at the sweltering Ginasio Nelio Dias in Natal, Brazil, veteran MMA superstars Dan Henderson and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua added another worthy chapter to their series, with “Hendo” emerging victorious once again, snapping a three fight losing streak this time by way of a come from behind third round knockout.
“This one probably means more than most,” said Henderson, who defeated Rua via five round decision in their first bout in November of 2011, a fight most consider to be one of the best of all-time. “Shogun has been such a big part of mixed martial arts and such a talented and tough fighter. Especially after the year I had last year, coming off that I wanted to make sure I got a win.”
It was a war of nerves in the opening minutes of the fight, with Rua’s leg kicks doing practically all the scoring, but Henderson slowly but surely getting himself into range to land his fight-altering right hand. It was Henderson’s left hook that was the big shot that scored though, rocking Rua. Shogun got even right away with a left of his own, hurting Hendo badly. Rua moved in for the finish, yet after some rough moments, Henderson made it to the end of the round.
After being told by his corner to wrestle, Henderson still looked to land his “H-Bomb” in round two, but it was Shogun confidently moving forward and locking his opponent against the fence before breaking and resuming their stand-up battle. An ensuing takedown attempt by Henderson was easily tossed aside by the former UFC light heavyweight champion, and a follow-up right uppercut put the American on the deck again. After a stalemate, referee Herb Dean restarted the action with under a minute left, and Rua was clearly the fresher of the two, with Hendo’s fatigue perhaps due not just to his foe’s punches, but the 94 degree heat in the building.
But in the third round, Henderson struck paydirt with the right hand, drilling the 32-year-old Rua and sending him to the canvas. Rua appeared to be seeking a single leg takedown as Henderson delivered another right hand, but after a series of hammerfists, Dean intervened, halting matters at the 1:31 mark.
The 43-year-old Henderson, who was coming off losses to Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, and Vitor Belfort, moves to 30-11 with the win; Curitiba’s Rua falls to 22-9.