The UFC have announced that the classic 2011 UFC 139 fight between former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and the UFC 17 middleweight tournament champion and former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Dan Henderson will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame’s ‘Fight Wing’ as a member of the class of 2018. The 2018 UFC Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place on Thursday, July 5 at The Pearl at Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas and will be streamed live and exclusively on UFC Fight Pass.
“The first fight between Dan Henderson and Shogun Rua is one of the best fights I’ve ever seen,” UFC President Dana White said. “This fight represents everything that’s great about UFC and the sport of mixed martial arts. Dan came out dropping bombs and took control of the first three rounds, while Shogun was able to absorb a ton of punishment, win the fourth and push the fight to the brink in the fifth. This fight was so good that it was named the 2011 Fight of the Year and is still considered one of the top five fights in UFC history. Congratulations to Dan Henderson and Shogun Rua on a fight that will forever be considered one of the greatest of all-time!”
As UFC’s first-ever event in San Jose, California, UFC 139: SHOGUN vs. HENDERSON, which took place on November 19, 2011 at HP Pavilion, was headlined by the highly-anticipated meeting with both athletes coming into this match up following impressive victories. The main event was also set to make history as the first non-title five-round fight in UFC light heavyweight history and was only the second non-title fight scheduled for five rounds in UFC history.
Henderson, a two-division world champion and 2005 middleweight grand prix champion during his tenure with PRIDE FC, entered the Octagon® with a 29-8 record, having won six of his last seven fights, including a first round TKO of former PRIDE FC heavyweight champion and 2004 PRIDE FC heavyweight grand prix champion Fedor Emelianenko. His other victories during this term included wins over former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin, former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping, former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Renato Sobral and former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Rafael Cavalcante.
“It’s awesome that this fight is being inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame,” Dan Henderson said. “I knew Shogun and I had thrown and landed a lot of big shots, but I had no idea people were calling it one of the best fights ever until the post-fight press conference. I had to watch the fight to appreciate how exciting it was. I’m honored that what Shogun and I went through that night is being remembered like this.”
Shogun arrived at HP Pavilion with a 20-5 record and wins in seven of his last 10 fights, having defeated UFC Hall of Famers Forrest Griffin, Chuck Liddell, Mark Coleman, former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida, former UFC heavyweight champion Kevin Randleman and former Strikeforce heavyweight champion and current UFC heavyweight Alistair Overeem during this stretch.
“I am very happy for this honor,” Shogun Rua said. “I trained hard every day for that bout and the fight was crazy. I gave everything I had, all my heart in the Octagon. I didn’t win, but I know I gave my all and this fight was one of the best of my career.”
“Dan Henderson is a great guy and I respect him,” Rua continued. “We gave the fans a special fight that night and I’m proud that the fans still talk about it and that it is part of UFC history. I’m going to display my Hall of Fame trophy alongside my championship belts and show this fight to my grandkids, son and all of their friends one day.”
Shogun opened the first round by taking down Henderson 45 seconds into the fight, but Dan’s counter resulted in a guillotine attempt and barrage of punches that immediately cut Rua over his left eye. Henderson then connected with his famed “H-Bomb” right hook which decked the Brazilian. Rua then caught Henderson with a right cross counter that put him on the canvas. Henderson almost finished Shogun in the third round, dropping the 2005 PRIDE FC middleweight grand prix champion with another hook before unloading over a dozen strikes as the referee came close to stopping the fight.
At the end of the third round, Henderson had out-struck Shogun 69 – 47 in power strikes.
Shogun launched a valiant comeback attempt during rounds four and five, coming within seconds of submitting Henderson via choke in the early seconds of the fourth. Overall, Rua was the aggressor during the final two rounds, connecting on 79 total strikes while Henderson only landed eight.
Both athletes were exhausted going into the fifth round, with Henderson’s coaches explicitly telling him not to stand and strike with Shogun. Each fighter mounted attempts to finish the fight during the fifth, but the bout ultimately went the distance. At the conclusion of the fifth round, Henderson captured the victory via unanimous decision.
“It’s crazy to think that without this being a five-round fight, we would have never known that Shogun could come back in the next two rounds and that Dan Henderson would have been able to last through five and win by unanimous decision,” noted White.
Both athletes combined to land 304 total strikes, which tied for the second-most in UFC light heavyweight history at the time, and ranks third in the division all time. Of the 304 strikes, their combined 173 power punches currently rank second all-time in UFC light heavyweight history.
One key aspect of Shogun’s strategy of attempting to take down Henderson, a two-time member of the United States Olympic Wrestling team (1992, 1996), surprised everyone, but Rua successfully notched five, more than any other fighter who faced Henderson during his career. Rua landed a total of 96 power strikes during the fight, the most he’s ever tallied in a fight in his career.
Both fighters endured more strikes over the course of this bout than they ever had during their careers. Henderson connected on 77 strikes, with Shogun landing 96, both career highs at the time.
The pair met for a rematch at UFC FIGHT NIGHT: SHOGUN vs. HENDERSON 2 on March 23, 2014 in Natal, Brazil. Henderson would defeat Shogun for a second time, via TKO in the third round, after another classic that was almost as exciting as their first encounter. Henderson fought 10 more times in UFC, retiring in 2016.
Shogun has fought nine times in UFC since his first legendary matchup with Henderson in San Jose. Rua is currently on a three-fight winning streak and headlines UFC’s return to Hamburg, Germany with UFC FIGHT NIGHT: VOLKAN vs. SHOGUN on Sunday, July 22.
The remaining inductees of the UFC Hall of Fame class of 2018 will be announced in the coming weeks leading to the 7th Annual UFC International Fight Week, which takes place from Monday, July 2 through Sunday, July 8 in Las Vegas.