If you watch NBC’s “Poker After Dark”, you know Dan Henderson is a gambler. This was proven again with Henderson’s recent decision to turn down a fight with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira in order to wait for a shot at Jon Jones and the UFC light heavyweight title. I have to admit I was surprised Dan turned down a fight that he would be a clear favorite in and I was even more surprised to learn he did it in a phone call with Dana White.
I’ve interviewed Dan plenty of times, but I still have no idea how to describe the relationship between Henderson and White. If you watch Dana on TV he likes to play the bad ass. In contrast, Henderson is one of the nicest guys you will meet but can also be a major league ball breaker.
I think Dan likes picking on Dana because of the attitude White shows when he is front of the camera. Think about it, did you ever see Henderson make a joke at the expense of Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker? I never did. Still, Henderson needs to remember that Dana White is the boss and if the boss calls asking for a favor, I think most of us are going to do that favor ESPECIALLY if we just came back from Strikeforce.
White needs a main event for UFC 145 taking place March 24th in Montreal. With options limited due to injuries and the need to fill a whopping 34 cards in 2012, White turned to Henderson. Wouldn’t you have loved to see White’s expression when Hendo said no?
When we spoke with Dan last week on “Clinch Gear Radio” he made the point that the fans are not interested in seeing him fight Nogueira and I agree with Dan on that point. Nogueira has been on the downside of his career going just 2-2 in his last 4 fights. If you look at Nogueira’s record, prior to beating an over-the-hill Tito Ortiz at UFC 140, his last major win was a knockout over Alistair Overeem back in July 2006.
Dan also said he told White he would be willing to face Nogueira in a 3 round fight (instead of the UFC’s new dumb rule that every main event will be 5 rounds) but White said no. So here we sit just about 8 weeks out with no main event for UFC 145 and no fight for Henderson.
What’s been made clear over the past week is the fans agree with Henderson and don’t feel there is a need for Dan at this stage of his career to take fights that don’t matter. While White’s history shows he listens to the fans via twitter and other social media outlets, I just have a weird feeling Dan could be headed to the end of the bench for a long time.
Light heavyweight is a pretty deep division for the UFC. You have Rashad Evans and Jon Jones as well as newcomers Alexander Gustafsson, Phil Davis and Ryan Jimmo all of whom could pose a strong challenge to Jones. Mix in former champs “Shogun” Rua and “Rampage” Jackson and the wait could get long for Henderson.
I’m not crazy, I know fans want to see if Jones can handle an “H-Bomb” and would riot in the streets if Jimmo got a title shot ahead of Henderson. I’m just saying the UFC has options outside of the former Strikeforce champ and if they want to punish Dan by making him wait, they do have challengers standing by. If Davis beats Evans next week in Chicago, “Mr Wonderful” could jump ahead of Dan.
Henderson has fought 37 times without my advice and I know he isn’t looking for it here. I just hope the decision he made last week pays off big instead of leaving the poker loving Henderson with no chips left to play.