Dan Henderson had one of those fights that can prompt a 42-year-old to rethink his place in life.
In February, Henderson couldn’t catch the evasive, karate-disciplined former Ultimate Fighting Championship light-heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida and lost a split-decision at Honda Center.
For Henderson, who was denied a title shot at UFC light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones in September when he suffered a knee injury in training, defeat to Machida meant he was even farther removed from the belt.
Time to walk away?
“I didn’t reflect on it like that too much,” Temecula’s Henderson told The Times in a telephone interview this week before his Saturday night fight in Winnipeg against another former UFC light-heavyweight champion, Rashad Evans.
“I knew it was possible a title shot wouldn’t come around again, but it wasn’t like I got my” rear “kicked, or that anything happened in the fans’ opinion that remotely reflected a real loss. It’s a loss on my record, but I didn’t consider it a huge setback.”
Henderson (29-9) said his inability to catch Machida was connected to the continued recovery of the knee injury along with some ankle pain he was experiencing earlier this year.
Now he faces a slumping, 33-year-old Evans (22-3-1) in the pay-per-view main event.
“I’m excited to get out there against a guy I can push the pace on,” Henderson said. “I’m completely healthy now.”
Evans has lost consecutive decisions to Jones and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira, turning this match against Henderson into a likely formal farewell to a title shot for the loser.
“I’m sure his training got remotivated by those losses, I’m sure he’ll be ready to go,” Henderson said.
Henderson has one fight left on his UFC contract following Saturday, he said, and even though he’s expanding his Dan Henderson’s Athletic Fitness Center in Temecula into a new 20,000-square-foot facility, fighting is what he wants to do for the foreseeable future.
“I still have goals,” Henderson said. “It’s not about the money. My goals are what motivate me and I believe I’m still capable of getting at my goals, but it all depends on how this fight goes.”
UFC President Dana White announced this week that Jones will defend his light-heavyweight title Sept. 21 in Toronto vs. Alexander Gustafsson.
“The only thing I can control is what I do in the cage, and in there I intend to beat the” heck “out of him,” Henderson said.
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