Dan Henderson unleashed his infamous right hand onto the nose of Mauricio 'Shogun' Rua as he dramatically battled back to win the main event of UFC Fight Night 38 in Brazil on Sunday night.
The fight in Natal was a rematch from the 2011 Fight of the Year, in which Henderson also won in a unanimous decision. Shogun had dominated the majority of the fight and looked to be close to finishing the fight in the first round, but the American, nicknamed 'Hendo', was able to hold on until the third round where he struck the Brazilian with a brutal right hand that dropped him then followed it up with a strike that forced referee Herb Dean to stop the fight, and shock the home crowd into silence.
In the lead up to the fight, both competitors talked about approaching the bout in a more methodical pace than their first contest at UFC 139, which captivated fans with their brawling style and warrior spirit. This proved to be the case, as both fighters looked to be more constructive with their striking attacks. However, as the round entered its final minute, the fight exploded into a pace more reminiscent of their meeting three years ago, as Henderson rocked Shogun before the latter countered with two hooks that dropped the American before pouncing on him and making sure that he barely survived the round.
Henderson came into the fight with question marks over the future of his career, as the 43-year old was stopped by strikes for the first time in his illustrious career in his last outing, against Vitor Belfort, and his chin was suitably tested against Shogun, who came into the contest with some momentum following his vicious knockout victory over James Te-Huna in December of last year.
The second round saw Shogun dominate again, as he floored Henderson with a thundering uppercut, but Hendo showed the experience that comes with over 40 professional MMA fights, as he tied up Rua to once again survive a grueling round.
By now, Shogun must have thought he was well on his way to avenging the 2011 defeat that saw him fall out of title contendership in the light-heavyweight division. But one minute into the third round, the two fighters spun out of a grapple and Henderson struck, finishing the fight and breaking Shogun's nose in the process.
After the fight, Shogun was evidently dazed, while Henderson reaped the rewards of another major victory that earned Fight of the Night and Performance of the Night bonuses, in a fight which showed how quickly things can turn in the sport.
Elsewhere on the card, Fabio Maldonado thrilled his home crowd with an exciting decision victory over Gian Villante, and in the co-main event, CB Dolloway upset the odds with a dramatic knockout victory over Cezar Ferreira.
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