UFC 139: Best Card Ever?
UFC 139 came to us Saturday night from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. The majority of the main card was action-packed, and the main event is already being talked about as one of the best MMA bouts of all time. Here’s the recap:
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua vs. Dan Henderson (205 pounds)
Two MMA legends face off in a main event ten years in the making. The fight starts with several leg kicks by Rua. Henderson lands a short right, followed by a huge knee that cuts Shogun. Henderson tries a guillotine, but Shogun slips out. Henderson follows up with a huge flurry of punches with Rua’s back to the cage. Shogun flops to the ground, but Henderson doesn’t follow. Dan Henderson is the more active fighter, but Rua is blocking the majority of his shots. Shogun drops Henderson with a big right hand, followed by a barrage of punches on the ground. Henderson survives, and gets to his feet. Rua controls the grappling battle on the cage to end the round.
Both fighters pace the cage to start round two. Shogun again controls the grappling battle on the fence. Both men land strikes solidly as they separate. Big left hand/right hand/right uppercut combination by Henderson. Rua moves forward to control the clinch on the fence. Both men swing wildly as they separate. Now Henderson gets clinch control on the cage, and scores with a short right followed by a big uppercut as the round ends.
Round three starts with another big uppercut by Henderson. Shogun now has cuts on both eyes. Big damaging right hand by Henderson drops Rua. Henderson is now dropping huge bombs on Shogun! A big leaping punch by Henderson nearly ends the fight. Somehow, Rua survives the assault, and actually grabs a heel hook to nearly end the fight in his favor! Both men get up, and both look absolutely exhausted (particularly Henderson). Dan Henderson gets in close, and lands good elbows to the side of Rua’s head. Shogun comes back with big lefts that rock Henderson. Both fighters drop their hands, and are breathing from the mouth, as the round ends.
Shogun seems to have recovered somewhat during the break, but Henderson looks absolutely gassed. Rua tries a takedown, but lands several good punches instead. Henderson works to get Shogun’s back, and sinks in a guillotine, but Rua escapes. Now Henderson scores with a takedown, and gains side control. Henderson attempts a choke from top position, but Shogun pulls guard. Henderson gets to his feet, and Rua invites him back to the ground. Henderson obliges with a big right hand. Both men are up, and Henderson is shaking his hand (which looks to be injured, possibly broken). Rua smells blood, and scores with big punches. Henderson is staggering around the cage, and looks hurt. Shogun knocks him down and pounces, trying to end the fight. Henderson somehow slips out to take top position to end the round.
The final round begins with a Shogun takedown with side control. Henderson is trying to push off the cage with his feet to escape. Big ground knees to the side of Henderson! Shogun now gets a full mount. Henderson is simply trying to survive, but Rua is dropping bombs. Henderson tries a desperation guillotine from the bottom, but Shogun earns another mount. Rua is causing major damage, but Henderson is still coherent. Rua takes Henderson’s back, then transitions back to the mount. Henderson gives up his back again, but can he survive this onslaught?! Shogun is back to the full mount with one minute left. Somehow, Henderson weathers the storm to survive.
Dan Henderson earns the close unanimous decision victory in an instant classic (48-47, 48-47, 48-47).
Reflections: This was, quite simply, one of the greatest fight cards in MMA history. Aside from the Bonnar/Kingsbury snooze fest, all of the bouts were electrifying. Urijah Faber has earned a rubber match with Dominick Cruz for the bantamweight crown. He will need to change his strategy from their last fight, if he wants a chance to defeat the evolved Cruz. Despite his victory, we may have seen Wanderlei Silva in the cage for the last time. Dana White has made clear his desire to see Silva retire, due to the large amount of knockouts he has suffered recently. Going out with a quality victory over an opponent like Cung Le would be a fitting sendoff for the former Pride FC legend. The Henderson/Shogun fight had more twists and turns than a Six Flags coaster. Henderson proved that he is still clearly able to hang with the younger generation of cage fighters, and seems to be in line for a title shot at either Jon Jones (light-heavyweight) or Anderson Silva (middleweight). Shogun Rua could possibly be paired with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at the February card in Japan. It would be a rematch of former Pride FC stars that are still enormously popular in the Orient, and surely wouldn’t disappoint.
READ MORE ABOUT THE REST OF THE FIGHTS HERE