SAN JOSE, November 19 - Dan “Hendo” Henderson versus Mauricio “Shogun” Rua = Instant classic. The inspiring and dramatic five-round war between the light heavyweight stars produced one of the all-time greatest fights you will ever see Saturday night, and it was Henderson who eked out a unanimous decision on the judges’ scorecards at the HP Pavilion via scores of 48-47 across the board. See post-fight interview
But as is the case with such magical masterpieces, there are no words on the printed page that can do justice to a fight where both men came oh-so-close to finishing the fight – only to be deprived by the never-say-die spirit in the other.
Both men set a fast and furious pace early, and both put the other on the deck with punches. It was Henderson (29-8), making his triumphant return to the UFC </a>after winning the Strikeforce title, who seemed to carry the first three rounds behind booming overhand rights and potent uppercuts. Yet while Rua would be wobbled, and bloodied, and overwhelmed by punches, and gassed, the Brazilian refused to quit. In fact, the 29-year-old stormed back in rounds four and five, blitzing his tired 41-year-old adversary with hard punches and wobbling the iron-chinned Californian with punches. Rua further tormented the former two-division PRIDE champion with ground and pound but, amazingly, could not find a breaking point.
It was the raging subplot that dripped for every second of this back-and-forth classic: With every passing second you were thinking, “Who wants it more?” and “Who will quit?”
“I hit him hard and clean,” an exhausted Henderson said afterwards of Rua, a former UFC champion who fell to 20-6. “I thought I could finish him the first two or three rounds, but he finished the fight strong. But I knew I had him the first three rounds easy. He stayed in there with great heart and he finished strong.”