Henderson: “Would’ve crushed Jones!”
In an exclusive interview with ESPN (video below), UFC Hall of Famer Dan Henderson opens up about the one fight he always wished for but never got: the showdown with Jon Jones at UFC 151. Henderson, known as a hard-hitting legend and a former champion in two divisions of PRIDE, was all set to challenge the then light-heavyweight champion Jones in the main event of September 2012. However, fate had other plans – just nine days before the bout, Henderson suffered a torn medial collateral ligament (MCL).
When Chael Sonnen stepped up, suggesting he could fill in on short notice, Jones declined, leading to the entire UFC 151 event being cancelled. Henderson shares his disappointment and confidence: “I was totally sure I would crush him. I was super prepared, not just physically but tactically too. All my sparring partners can attest to how ready I was.”
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Henderson never got a second chance at Jones in an MMA fight, but he remains convinced he would have been the one to dethrone the champion. “In my head, I had already won. I was in prime shape, both physically and mentally, ready to bring home the win,” he insists.
However, their paths did cross a few years later in a grappling match at Submission Underground 2, where Jones emerged victorious with an arm-triangle choke. Henderson reflects on this and suggests he believes he would have had the upper hand in an MMA match. “It’s the only fight I’ve ever pulled out of in my 20-year career. It was a real letdown,” says Henderson.
This story is a reminder of how unpredictable the world of MMA can be, and how a single injury can turn careers upside down and rewrite history.