UFC 161: Dan Henderson Still Has “Unfinished Business” With Jon Jones, But “100% Focused” on Rashad Evans
By Kelsey Mowatt
Dan Henderson has had one of the sport’s most storied careers to date, but that doesn’t mean the 42 year-old-fighter isn’t looking to add yet another historical chapter to it. Despite losing his opportunity to fight Jon Jones last September due to injury, and then suffering a further setback when he lost by split decision to Lyoto Machida in February, “Hendo” still has the light-heavyweight champ in his sites.
While speaking on a recent media call to promote his UFC 161 headliner tomorrow with Rashad Evans, Henderson had this to say about his title shot aspirations.
“Obviously that was something that was supposed to happen last year,” said Henderson, who secured a bout with Jones last fall, by working his way to a unanimous decision win over former champ “Shogun” Rua in 2011. “It’s more about, one day I would like to fight Jon Jones. I feel I have unfinished business there, but I’ve been 100% focused on this fight so I’m not concerned about what happens after.”
Although Evans struggled in his last bout against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, and lost by unanimous decision, Henderson understands that the former champ is still a considerable threat. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that pundits and fans were wondering whether Evans might have what it takes to defeat his rival Jones, before the champion handed him a UD defeat last April.
“That’s pretty much it,” Henderson said. “Rashad is extremely tough and very dangerous, and I want to make sure I’m 100% focused.”
It’s understandable why Henderson says he’s not looking past Evans, as a loss to the 33 year-old vet would be catastrophic for the legend’s title shot run. If Henderson had defeated Machida at UFC 157 in February, then it may have been him who was tapped to fight Jones next instead of Alexander Gustafsson. Not only did that not happen, but the highly anticipated bout failed to deliver much action, and was widely viewed as a disappointment.
“I think Lyoto is definitely a different fighter than nearly everybody else that fights in the UFC,” Henderson said about his loss to the former champ. “I don’t know; I know I didn’t perform my best, and I could have done some things differently, but it’s hard to fight a guy that really doesn’t want to fight you.”
“I really didn’t get too offended or disappointed with myself,” Henderson added. “I knew I should have done some things different and been more aggressive, but live and learn. I’m feeling good, and definitely confident and ready for this fight.”
Of course, tomorrow’s bout wasn’t scheduled to headline UFC 161, but after fighters like Nogueira and interim bantamweight champ Renan Barao were forced to withdraw due to injuries, it was moved into the main event.
“Every fight’s a big fight in my mind,” the decorated fighter furthered. “Whether it’s the main event or not, I’m still going to go out there and give 100% for my effort.”
UFC 161 will be hosted by the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba.