Dan Henderson: A One-Trick Pony?

Now that we are approaching what should be one of the biggest championship bouts of the year, several fans are beginning to wonder a few things about the match up. Dan Henderson and Jon Jones will square off for a scheduled amount of 5 rounds on Saturday, September 1st, and on the line will be the UFC Light-Heavyweight Title. However, when it comes to breaking down the fight and trying to make an accurate prediction, your mind travels one thing; will Dan Henderson be able to land his signature right hand? Dan Henderson has been labled as a “one-trick pony” (A term meaning you only have one trick or move that has paid off for you in the past) by his opponent Jones and several other fighters and critics on his long and lengthy MMA career. If he wants to silence the critics that badmouth his stand up abilities, then he will have to dig deep and work hard on rounding out the rest of his game.

If the answer to the previous question is given, than this bout is about as easy as counting 1, 2, 3. Dan Henderson’s right hand is about as powerful as anyones and has taken away consciousness of fighters like Michael Bisping, Fedor Emelianenko, Renato Sobral, Rafael Cavalcante, Akihiro Gono, and Ryo Chonan. While Henderson’s right hand is powerful, he has noticeably slown down as of late. His last few performances, despite being 4-1 in his last 5, have been criticized as “sloppy”. Take his fight for Jake Shields for instance, Henderson was able to land big punches, but he was out-wrestled and out-controlled for 25 minutes by an undersized middleweight. If you take his most recent fight, a “Fight Of The Year” performance against Mauricio Rua, you saw Dan Henderson land several right hands, but was not able to finish the durable Brazilian and was even dropped himself. Not only that, but Henderson (A Greco-Roman Olympian) was out wrestled by “Shogun”.

So now knowing that Henderson’s offensive arsenal, besides his right hand, has been lacking, how will he be able to cope with the adversity, athleticism, and creativity of the champion? Jon Jones is known for not only his incredible striking techniques which combine many different schools of striking, but also his wrestling as well. Jones has his own wrestling credentials as he is a Junior Greco-Roman Regional Champion, and an NJCAA Junior Collegiate Champion.

Now with Henderson equally matched, if not being at a disadvantage, in the wrestling department, he won’t be able to take the fight to the ground very easily. He is going to have to stand and try to bang with Jon Jones. However, several fighters have tried to do that before; Brandon Vera, Mauricio Rua, Quinton Jackson, Rashad Evans, just to name a few, and they have all failed. Jon Jones possesses the longest reach in the UFC roster, and has the footwork and movement to go along with it. Jones is about as unhittable of target as you can get, maybe being second to Lyoto Machida (Whom he oustruck and choked out).

With all of this stacked against Dan Henderson, will he still be able to land that right hand? Let’s not forget that Jon Jones is one of the smartest fighters when it comes to game planning, is in outstanding physical condition, and has one of the greatest coaches in the game to develop strategy. If all Jon Jones has to do is avoid Henderson’s right hand, then I think it’s safe to assume he will already have this fight in the bag, especially after seeing Henderson’s cardio in his last outing. Dan Henderson will have to come with a lot more tool than just his right hand if he wants to be champion and get rid of the label of being a “one-trick pony”. Yes, it’s cool to have your own signature punch, but what happens when you face a fighter who is better than you in all aspects of the game and just has to avoid your one punch? We will find out Saturday, September 1st.