UFC 139 Mauricio Rua vs Dan Henderson UFC Fight Night 38Last night’s UFC Fight Night 38 was a very bizarre night of fights in Brazil. Nearly every underdog took home the win while points were being deducted against non-Brazilian’s left and right. With an arena that doesn’t have air conditioning; the fights inside the cage were horrifically exhausting, making for some awful performances, sprinkled with spectacular finishes.

Here’s what stood out to me in Natal at UFC Fight Night 38.

Gian Villante: In my fight report I heavily insinuated Gian Villante didn’t fight very smart, and last night he proved me painfully correct. Coming into the fight, he confessed that his best chance of beating Maldonado was to mix his wrestling and striking and he did exactly that….for one round. As the second round started, Villante seemed to think he had Maldonado on the ropes, and a short left hook even wobbled the Brazilian for a moment, looking like the end was near. However, that was the last real offense Villante would have as Maldonado came forward with a popping jab and shovel hooks to Villante’s soft body. For the next half of the fight, Villante failed to materialize even the hint of a game plan as his gas tank hit empty with all these body blows. It was one of the easiest fights for a wrestler to win, yet it’s the fight that will see Villante released from the UFC and sent in search of some fight sense.

CB Dollaway: On the complete opposite end of the spectrum from Villante is Dollaway, a fighter whom I’d written off ages ago as being too stubborn to learn and lacking the confidence to handle a tough fight. Somewhere along the line here, Dollaway has found that much-needed boost to his self-esteem and carries himself differently in the cage now, with the results being tangible in terms of wins. Taking on Ferreira I was convinced Dollaway had only a small pocket to hit a takedown to get him out of the fight before being devoured, yet it was Dolloaway that went on a rampage. For the first time in his career, Dollaway was throwing fire in that cage; standing tall as he rifled punches against his oncoming foe. A vicious right hand zapped Ferreira and instantly wilted the Brazilian, with Dollaway following him to the mat to finish out the night in stunning fashion. With Dollaway’s legitimate grappling skills, this new incarnation could be dangerous indeed, and I’m looking forward to see where he goes from here.

UFC 139 Dan Henderson UFC Fight Night 38Dan Henderson vs Shogun Rua: An old-school battle between old school fighters, this one started off slow and turned into an offering nearly as brutal as the first fight. In a first round that saw Henderson a moment from being finished and a second that played out in Rua’s favor, Hendo’s chances were looking grim entering the third. The legend was to live on however, as a sweeping right hand upon disengaging from clinch smashed Rua’s face to bits and sent him literally tumbling backwards. A few follow-ups and Henderson had successfully snatched victory away from the Brazilian on his home turf.

As happy as I am to see Henderson come away with the win, this fight leaves me worried for his continued health, as well as Rua’s. For Rua’s part, he looked flat and awful to start this bout, not at all like he had against Te-Huna in his last fight, and further illustrates the hot and cold nature of Shogun. While he performed fairly well, his face will need to be rebuilt (check the pictures if you don’t believe me) and I wouldn’t be surprised if he stepped out of the cage for good here.

The scary part is its Henderson that’s risking the most here and no one will tell him to hang it up after this. Henderson will always have power, yet his timing has started to go, his knees and lower back have left him completely unable to grapple. This can be seen with his shuffling takedown attempts and his inability to hold or escape any position off of his back. This leaves Henderson having to throw his massive punches and leaves him taking more and more of the same every fight. Rua badly hurt Henderson three times in this bout and I’d hate to see what happens if Henderson gets in there with someone who has a bit of movement left and no problem making a name off Henderson’s swift dispatch. Here’s to hoping someone either sets up fights that will allow him to retire gracefully when ready, or that he gets out of there before being fed to a young lion.

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