Dan Henderson embraces fast turnaround, says fighting without TRT ‘not a huge thing’
"I was expecting to fight in July, but you know, just the way it happened for whatever reason they moved it up to May," he said. "It’s the quickest road back to that title shot, and no matter who I fight to get that title shot I’m going to have to fight those top guys. And that’s what DC is, so I’m going to have to beat him anyway. Better while I’m still in shape than having to start all over and get in shape again."
Another concern for Henderson -- just as it was for Belfort -- is the TRT ban. As a fighter who had previously been granted TRT therapeutic use exemptions in Nevada and elsewhere, he’ll have to face Cormier in Las Vegas without it.
Henderson said that was one of his chief concerns when the idea came up to fight Cormier on May 24.
"Obviously that was my concern, just I want to make sure I don’t test positive because they changed the rules and put me in a fight so quick," he said. "But everything’s running on track as far as [that] and they’re happy with the test results, so here we go."
Henderson last competed without TRT against Rashad Evans at UFC 161 in Winnipeg, a fight he lost via a very narrow split decision. When asked if it’ll affect him this time, he said he’s not overly worried.
"You know, it’s not a huge thing but it’s just I was taking advice from my doctors to be healthier and I felt better using the supplemental TRT they gave me, but it is what it is," he said. "I can’t change the rules. Unfortunately it went down this way instead of conquering the whole problem of all the drug problems, but yeah I think that they’re going to start trying to clean it up and have more random drug testing as well what I hear."
As for finding something that might help his body to adjust to proceeding with TRT, Henderson said he’s being cautious.
"There are some things out there, but even some natural supplements are banned as well, so it’s a matter of finding something that has everything that’s legal rather than everything but one thing," he said. "So I’m still looking into that. Obviously it was kind of a short turnaround, so it’s been kind of tough to figure that out right now."
Henderson was the final TRT exemption in Brazil for his fight with Rua. Even with the quick turnaround and having to adapt to the new rules on the fly, there’s still the question of having to fight Cormier, a friend of his whom he admires. Cormier has gone on record saying he hoped to avoid ever having to fight Henderson, but with circumstances changing around him, so did his preferences.
"Obviously I was hoping to not fight him as well," Henderson said of fighting Cormier. "I respect him and know that he’s a wrestler and he represents the sport really well, and I’m a fan of his. So, it’s never somebody you want to beat up in that way. But we all have the same goals and sometimes you have to compete against each other."
Asked how he planned to beat Cormier, who has been dominant through 14 fights of his career, Henderson was to the point.
"Punching him and outwrestling him," he said. "It’s a simple thing with him. He’s got a style similar to me and he’s a tough guy, but I feel like I’ve got more experience."
Daniel Cormier will wait for his title shot after fighting Dan Henderson, no matter how long it takes
"I've waited long enough," Cormier said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour. "This will be my fifth top-10 win, and I'm not fighting anyone else. I'm going to sit and wait and get better, and I'm going to wait to fight Jon Jones."
"If it took nine months, I'd wait nine months. It's time for me to fight for the belt. It's not that I'm afraid I'll lose to any of these guys, because I don't believe that. I think I can beat them all. I just think that at a point, you have to make a stand about what's important for me. Eventually one of these guys is going to take me to the edge and make me have to fight. Dan Henderson could potentially be that guy. I may need a lot of time between fights. The only reason I haven't needed so much time is because I haven't really been pressed.""I'm a little surprised that he's fighting as fast as he is," Cormier admitted. "I mean, he did get rocked pretty good in that fight, he got dinged pretty good. Normally you need to give yourself some time to recover and let your brain kind of resettle. It's a quick turnaround for Dan Henderson.
"This may be the quickest turnaround he's had in quite some time. So yeah, I was a little surprised, but also I like Dan Henderson. I look up to Dan Henderson for the idea that, if you ask Dan Henderson to fight, he probably just says, ‘well what's the name of the venue' and ‘tell me the date and I'll be there.'"
Henderson's situation is unique in that, had Rua managed to put him in away either of the two instances he had Henderson on wobbly legs, it would've marked Henderson's fourth consecutive loss and the inevitable calls for his retirement would've come flooding in.
Ultimately, Henderson survived to knock Rua's lights out with a third-round H-bomb, but Cormier admits that, when coupled with Henderson's recent brutal knockout loss to Vitor Belfort, the performance signified a somewhat worrisome trend.
"We talk about his chin now, and he's falling down," Cormier said of Henderson. "He never used to fall down. His grit and his determination are carrying him through these tough situations where he's still able to get victories, but it's showing signs that he's taken some damage. So I don't necessarily like that aspect of it, but I do respect and appreciate how much of a warrior spirit and how much of a fighter Dan Henderson really is."
Regardless, Cormier is looking forward to a duel against Henderson much more than he was for his light heavyweight debut against Patrick Cummins, because, he said, it'll be a joy to "fight someone that I respect on a high level, someone that's been through everything that I've been through, somebody that's competed at the highest level for a long time, and a person that I like."
As for Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson 2, Cormier already has his mind made up who will emerge victorious -- a fact which became clear when host Ariel Helwani asked him if Gustafsson stands a chance to dethrone the record-breaking champ.
"No chance," Cormier flatly replied, before amending his answer.
"Let me rephrase that. I'm not saying he doesn't have a chance. I'm just saying that if I had to bet my money, or if I asked 10 people who wins this fight, nine out of those 10 people would say Jon Jones, because honestly, I believe that he's better because he has more tools.
"When you look at Jon on paper against a lot of people, he seems to match up well against every single one of us. He seems to holds the advantages against every single one of us. It's the intangibles. It's the things that you can't measure on a piece of paper that it's going to take to beat Jon Jones -- the things that I believe I hold in spades.
"I've been winning my entire life," Cormier said in closing. "That's all I know how to do, and that's what I plan on continuing to do as I finish my mixed martial arts career. I'm not trying to sound arrogant or cocky in any way. I know how to win. I know that at the end of the day, when I step in the cage with most guys that I fight, I've done more things right over the course of my lifetime and over the course of my athletic career than they have. And that's what carries me."