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UFC Legacies: Dan “Hendo” Henderson

The life and career of the UFC superstar Dan Henderson 

Dan Henderson is one of the most successful UFC fighters never to win a championship title or belt. The closest Henderson ever came was winning one of the early tournament nights. 

Outside of the UFC Henderson won medals at the Pan American Games and championship titles with other MMA companies. Henderson has retired from the UFC three times. His most recent retirement was in 2016. He has since been inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame. 

Today, we are going to look at the life and career of the UFC legend Dan “Hendo” Henderson. 

The UFC Years 

Dan Henderson had a turbulent relationship with the UFC – partly because of their fighting weight limits and partly because of their substance restrictions. Henderson was forced to quit the hormone treatment he had been receiving since he was a teen to fight for the UFC. 

Henderson’s debut fight with the UFC was only his third-ever MMA fight. He entered the Middleweight tournament at UFC 17 in 1998. That night he defeated Allan Goes and Carlos Newton to win the tournament. 

In his fight with Newton, his jaw was broken and he did not fight again until a year and a half later. However, he did not return to the UFC until 2007. During this time we won 2 championship titles with the PRIDE Fighting Championship. When PRIDE was bought by the UFC, Henderson moved across. 

Henderson returned to the UFC to challenge Quinton “Rampage” Jackson for his Light Heavyweight title. It looked like Henderson would win in the first round but he faded as the match went on and lost in the 5th round. 

6 months later Henderson was defeated by Anderson Silva while attempting to win his Welterweight title from him. He lost via submission in the second round. 

At UFC 88, Henderson defeated Rousimar Palhares and went on to beat  Rich Franklin later that year. After this match he left the UFC to pursue coaching, eventually, he joined Strikeforce and won more titles with them. 

When Strikeforce was bought out by the UFC, Henderson returned to the company for the third time. In this third stint, he was beaten by Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans, Vitor Belfort (twice), Daniel Cormier, Gegard Mousasi, and Michael Bisping. But he won his fights against Héctor Lombard, Tim Boetsch, and Maurício Rua (twice). 

After losing to Michael Bisping in 2016, Henderson announced that he would be retiring from the UFC for the final time. 

Since leaving the UFC, Henderson has done a small amount of MMA coaching. 

Dan Henderson used to fight in the Middleweight division – the current UFC Middleweight champion is Israel Adesanya. You can find Fanduel’s UFC odds on them and other fighters here. 

Outside the UFC 

Henderson has an incredibly successful career in Grecco-Roman wrestling, as well as in Amature Wrestling. He won medals at the World Championships, the Pan American Games, and the Pan American Championships. He won a gold medal in the latter. 

He made his MMA debut at the Brazil Open Tournament in 1997. He won the tournament that night. In between his three stints at the UFC, Henderson fought for PRIDE Fighting Championships – he became their Welterweight and Middleweight champion. 

He also spent some time fighting for Strikeforce. There he won the Light Heavyweight championship title. 

Henderson started wrestling as a young child and quickly made a name for himself in the world of amateur wrestling. As a teen, he was prescribed TRT because he has low testosterone production. This was later banned in the UFC and Henderson was forced to “go cold turkey” as he put it. 

Henderson now owns the Team Quest Fitness Gym located in Temecula, California. He lives in California with his wife and three children. 

He was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2018 for his 2011 fight with Maurício Rua. 

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