On the day of the first press conference for UFC 145: “Jones vs. Evans”, another light heavyweight contender continues to do what he has been doing for months- waiting.
After defeating Mauricio “Shogun” Rua at UFC 139 in November, Dan Henderson (29-8) maintained that he felt he deserved a title shot after that victory, and that he was willing to wait for it. He continued to wait through January, as Rashad Evans faced Phil Davis at UFC on FOX 2. Throughout the week, UFC President Dana White answered repeatedly that Evans would get the opportunity to face Jon Jones if he were to win against Davis. However, if Evans lost or suffered an injury against Davis, Henderson would step in to face Jones.
Unfortunately for Henderson, Evans defeated Davis and left the cage unscathed, and the matchup with Jones was announced for UFC 145 on April 21st shortly thereafter.
Throughout this time, Henderson has been offered opponents, but has declined all of them. White confirmed that Henderson most recently turned down an opportunity to face Lyoto Machida. Reportedly, he also turned down a rematch with Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. The two fought in April 2005 at PRIDE Total Elimination 2005, with Nogueira winning by armbar.
Henderson has stated that due to a lot of the top contenders in the division already with opponents, he would be interested in fighting at heavyweight while waiting for the scheduled fights in the light heavyweight division to play out. Henderson fought at heavyweight last June, defeating Fedor Emelianenko via TKO in the first round. This was his final fight for Strikeforce before returning to the UFC.
However, the UFC rarely allows fighters to move around in weight, instead preferring fighters permanently move to a specific weight class.
For now, Henderson will have to continue waiting, but will likely end up taking a fight during the summer instead of waiting for the Jones vs. Evans winner to be ready. With that championsip fight scheduled in April, the winner might not be ready until late summer or early fall. Henderson turns 42 in August.