Heading into UFC 151, UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones is the favorite in his bout against former Strikeforce and Pride champion Dan Henderson, and deservedly so. Rarely does a champion not go into a title defense as the favorite, but lately it seems like Dan Henderson has become almost an afterthought.
Questions continue to fly at Jones about a move to heavyweight or his thoughts on facing Lyoto Machida next. While the champion constantly tries to move the conversation back to Henderson, it seems just about everybody else is convinced he's going to win and then it's on to the next one.
The chatter and talk doesn't bother Henderson. It's not the first time he hasn't been expected to win. The great thing about every situation in MMA, however, is that it gets settled in the cage, not by the pre-fight interviews.
“I'm sure I've been overlooked and it doesn't bother me, and I don't mind at all. I know that I have a date to fight him and I'm going to make the best of it,” Henderson said in an interview with MMAWeekly Radio.
Since coming to the UFC in 2008, Jones has looked virtually unstoppable. The UFC's reigning champion has barely been touched by any opponent, and since capturing the title in 2011, he's looked like the best fighter MMA has seen since Anderson Silva.
The fact is, however, every fighter is capable of losing. Every fighter has a weakness; the key is finding the right opening to exploit it. Henderson believes he's seen enough footage by now to know just how to beat Jones in the Octagon.
“There's a number of things that I think I can capitalize on, but again it's a matter of me making sure I stick to my game plan and fighting my fight,” said Henderson.
As far as game plans for his opponent, Henderson has heard Jones talk a lot about being the aggressive fighter on the feet and looking for the knockout. While Henderson invites that kind of strategy, there's not much belief that Jones will actually go out and try to strike with him when they actually meet in the cage.
“I would definitely like for him to come out and try to knock me out, because I wouldn't have to chase him around that way, but I'm pretty sure he's going to come out and try to take me down. He's going to want to try and put me on my back, try to get me tired doing that,” Henderson stated.
As invincible as Jones has looked, the one part of his game that hardly anyone has seen is his ability to get out of bad situations, and how he reacts to being hurt or in serious trouble during a fight.
Henderson plans on testing out all of those things at UFC 151.
“Maybe he can take a pretty good punch, maybe he bounces back after getting beat up for a little while, who knows,” said Henderson. “I'm definitely planning on seeing what he really is made of.”
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- Dan Henderson