The youngest title-holder in UFC history is scheduled to face off against former PRIDE and Strikeforce champion Dan Henderson in the main event of UFC 151 on Sept. 1. Henderson is arguably one of, if not the most dangerous opponent Jones has faced thus far in his career due to his concussive knockout power and Olympic-level wrestling.
Jones is aware of the threats his 41-year-old opponent presents, and even though Henderson’s attack may be a tad one-dimensional, that one dimension has caused 13 of his former opponents to wake up on the mat with a doctor shining a light in their eyes. Jones is aware of this and he plans to avoid the strikes of Henderson all together.
“He’s an animal, a beast. It’s no secret that Dan Henderson’s a little bit of a one-trick pony.” Jones told UFC.com. “He just has that power. Uppercut, overhand, when he touches people they go down…My objective is not to get hit at all,”
Henderson is one of the most decorated fighters in the sport. He won the UFC 17 tournament, held two championships simultaneously in PRIDE, was the Strikeforce light heavyweight champion, is the only fighter to knock out MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko and has defeated several big-name fighters in the sport. While a resume of Henderson’s caliber would intimidate a lot of fighters, Jones simply looks at his opponent as another man.
“I’ve just fought so many monsters, ‘Shogun’, ‘Rampage’ Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Rashad Evans. Dan Henderson’s just another tough guy, he’s not this big mythical character for me,” he said. “If Dan Henderson thinks he’s going to be able to take my belt, he has another thing coming.”
While Jones believes Henderson’s fighting style can be predictable at times, he feels his style is much more difficult to gauge and his opponents never know what he is going to do in the fight, a trait that has led him to a professional record of 16-1.
“Fighting me is like walking through a dark room, you really don’t know what’s to expect.” Jones said. “There’s a lot of random stuff that I do.”
One notable fact both men have going for them going into UFC 151 is in a combined 54 professional bouts, Jones nor Henderson have never been knocked out. Since Henderson has twice as many fights on his record and has fought men bigger than Jones in the heavyweight division, the stat is more impressive for Henderson. When people bring up the name of “Hendo”, his ability to absorb punishment is one of the first things that comes to mind. With that in mind, Jones likes to set lofty goals for himself and wants to be the first man to finish Henderson with strikes.
“I’m very confident I can be the first guy to KO him.” Jones explained. “Slowly and methodically hit him one hit at a time until he decides that his body is hurting and he wants the fight to be over.”
Jones is chasing accomplishments of his own and the most prominent of those is passing former light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz’s record for most 205-pound title defenses. Ortiz’s record sits five, Jones is currently at three. If the New York native he hopes to break the record and etch his name in the books at the most dominant light heavyweight champion in UFC history, a win on Sept. 1 is necessary to get there.
“I want to be considered the number one light heavyweight of all-time, I’ve come too far to slow down now.”
“I will remain the UFC’s light heavyweight champion.”