MANILA, Philippines – Former Pride and Strikeforce champion Dan “Hendo” Henderson believes he matches up well with reigning Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) light heavyweight champion Jon “Bones” Jones.
“I match up better with Jones... I love to fight on the inside and get in the clinch and Jones does that as well,” Henderson said in an interview with ESPN. [http://www.espn.co.uk/ufc/sport/story/147535.html]
Henderson is the new number 1 contender to Jones’ light heavyweight title after the latter succesfully defended the belt last weekend against Rashad Evans at UFC 145.
Henderson watched Jones’ fight against Evans live, and he saw some things that he believes will help him when he steps into the Octagon against the champion.
“He got hit a few times,” Henderson said of Jones. “It looked like Rashad rocked him a little bit, and that was while playing Jones’ game. I’m a totally different style of fighter than Rashad is.”
Jones admitted in the post-event presser that he felt “wobbled” at some point during the match.”
“I wouldn’t say that I was hurt, but he definitely wobbled me. Getting wobbled isn’t actually hurt... He rocked me and I was happy that I was able to take punches from Rashad because he’s a very powerful puncher,” Jones said.
Henderson is also a very powerful puncher, possessing knockout power in his vaunted right hand. But the former champion acknowledged that he will still have to find a way to neutralize Jones’ considerable reach advantage before unleashing his punches.
“I don’t want to stay on the outside, get picked apart and let him think about what goofy stuff he’s gonna throw at me or kick at me,” Henderson said. “I want to go out there and make sure I’m getting in tight.”
Jones used his long arms to keep Evans away for most of their bout, and once again showcased his unique striking by using his elbows to rock Evans in the second and third rounds.
“It’s just a matter of figuring out his unorthodox striking and staying outside of his reach and then getting inside, getting past where he’s most dangerous,” Henderson said.
Jones said he was already looking forward to his fourth title defense.
“Henderson... is an awesome opponent, very well respected and has extreme knockout power,” Jones said in a separate ESPN interview.
“He’s a lot like Rashad Evans. I don’t think he matches in speed, but I think he’s a little stronger. He has a lot of pride in his wrestling base,” he added.
“He’s a worthy opponent and I’m excited.”
Henderson emphasized that even though he is planning to scout Jones’ strengths and weaknesses, at the end of the day, he will focus on his own game plan for the bout.
“You watch some film and you see what guys have tendencies of, but when it comes down to it, you need to focus on your game plan and what you’re going to do to the other guy,” he said.
Henderson earned the title shot after defeating Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in a five-round classic last year in a bout that earned “Fight of the Year” honors.