UFC 139 saw one of the finest mixed martial art match-ups in memory, as Dan Henderson edged to a narrow triumph over Brazil’s Mauricio Rua. It was a bout that left both men bloodied and battered.
All three judges gave Henderson the victory by 48-47, but not before Rua spent the last two rounds dominating the fight. It would have been a remarkable comeback for Rua, who was in turn almost overcome by Henderson in the first two rounds.
In the opener, Henderson had Rua against the cage and was close to a standing chokehold submission early on. A series of right-hand punches to Rua’s head opened a cut above the Brazilian’s left eye, as the fight looked to be heading in only one direction.
While the second round was less frantic, Henderson still controlled proceedings, bloodying Rua’s nose. As Henderson said after the fight, before being taken to hospital: “I should have had him finished there. His tank was running low there.”
In the next round, Rua was knocked to the floor by a powerful right hand shot, but almost gained a submission hold by grabbing Henderson’s left foot while on the canvas. Towards the end of the third round, Rua dispatched a volley of scoring punches as he pushed Henderson against the cage.
For the final two rounds, it was a different story, with Rua controlling the pace of the fight, wobbling Henderson with a hard right in the fourth, and getting on top of him in the fifth to deliver a succession of blows to the head.
Yet Henderson held on, just – even more remarkable, considering this was his first fight in UFC for two years. Now aged 41, he had left the sport in 2009.
The fight was immediately declared a classic, with UFC President Dana White stating:
“That’s without a doubt one of the top three best fights ever in MMA. I have so much respect for both of those guys to dig down that deep in a five-round fight. That was like our Ali-Frazier III. It was incredible.”
Did you catch this amazing scrap?