Daniel Cormier continued his march toward a potential UFC Light Heavyweight Championship fight as he defeated Dan Henderson in impressive fashion at UFC 173 Saturday night.
A bit unsurprisingly, DC mauled the overmatched 43-year-old for all three rounds, throwing Hendo around like a rag doll and controlling all of the action on his way to a dominant submission victory.
Yahoo Sports’ Kevin Iole noted the official finish, while Guilherme Cruz added an impressive stat following the transcendent performance:
Afterward, Cormier was quick to call out Jon Jones, via ESPN’s Brett Okamoto:
Despite his long track record of success, Henderson entered Saturday’s tilt as a massive underdog. Although he won his previous fight against Mauricio Rua, Henderson lost three in a row prior to that. Conversely, Cormier had never lost ahead of UFC 173, and he continued his tear through the world of MMA.
The 35-year-old is a former Olympic wrestler who burst onto the MMA scene in 2009. He established himself as a dominant heavyweight, but he has since dropped down in weight. He won his first light heavyweight bout decisively against Patrick Cummins, and while Henderson was a step up in competition, it didn’t seem to faze Cormier.
DC has been touted as the next big thing in UFC for the past couple of years, so there was plenty of pressure on him to perform against Henderson.
Although Henderson was a clear underdog against Cormier, he seemed confident in his ability to hand him his first career loss, according to Heidi Fang of Fox Sports 670 AM:
Henderson felt as though a Cormier loss was inevitable at some point, and while it may come to fruition eventually, Henderson learned that DC is for real.
The win is huge for Cormier, but it may be equally devastating for Henderson. At 43 years of age, he is seemingly on the decline, and the fact that he has lost four out of his past five fights won’t do him any favors in terms of scoring big bouts in the near future.
He has long been a recipient of testosterone replacement therapy, but it was recently banned by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. That marked a major change for Henderson, but he made it clear leading up to Saturday’s fight that he was still capable of excelling even without TRT, per Matt Erickson of MMAJunkie.com:
I’m feeling pretty good. I maybe lay on the couch a little more than I used to. But I laid on the couch quite a bit before, too. It’s all about just making sure you train hard and train smart. I did that before I was on TRT, I did that during, and now, as well. I’ve won fights and lost fights with it and without it. I really don’t notice too big of a difference, competition-wise. But hopefully I make a statement that it doesn’t matter in this fight.
Hendo may have been prepared, but that still wasn’t enough to beat Cormier. Perhaps Hendo lost simply because Cormier is better at this point in their respective careers. With TRT now out of the equation, though, some observers might question the validity of Henderson’s previous success.
This win is a significant one for Cormier, as it potentially puts a title shot against Jon “Bones” Jones in his future. Cormier took this fight against Henderson in order to prepare himself for a meeting with Jones, but doing so wasn’t his first choice.
According to Steven Marrocco of MMAJunkie.com, fighting Henderson isn’t something that Cormier wanted to do initially:
I wasn’t exactly happy about it. I would much rather not fight Dan Henderson. He’s a guy that I’ve looked up to for a long time. Dan is the first guy I can go into the cage with and say this guy’s done everything that I’ve done, and he’s actually done things at a much higher level than I have.
Cormier obviously has the utmost respect for Henderson, but he didn’t allow that to hinder his performance. DC knew that he had a job to do at UFC 173, and he won in impressive fashion. Unfortunately, it may mean the end of an MMA legend’s career.
Even though Henderson hasn’t said much about retirement in recent years, it will inevitably continue to be a hot topic of conversation. He is no longer a top-notch fighter in UFC, and it may be time for him to step away from the Octagon in the near future.
A win might have gotten Henderson into title contention against Jones, but it is difficult to imagine that happening based on Hendo‘s recent string of poor results. He is very much in limbo right now, and he may have to settle for some lower-level fights if he wants to continue competing.
It can be argued that Cormier simply did what he was supposed to do against Henderson, but it was a great victory nonetheless. Henderson is as savvy as they come and has a massive experience edge over Cormier, but that ultimately didn’t matter.
Cormier confirmed his status as the favorite and proved worthy of challenging Jones at some point. Whether that occurs in his next fight or even after Jones takes on Alexander Gustafsson again, a Cormier vs. Jones clash appears inevitable.
Based on how Cormier looked at UFC 173, he could potentially be the biggest threat to Jones’ throne yet.
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