[adrotate group=”25″]Two legends collide at UFC Fight Night 38 as Mauricio “Shogun” Rua takes on Dan Henderson in a rematch of one of the greatest fights in UFC history.
Dan Henderson won their first fight back in 2011, but a lot has changed since then. Initially I wasn’t going to bet on this fight, because of how close their first fight was, but after a significant amount of research I now feel that there is value in betting on Shogun.
Age plays a massive part in an MMA fighter’s career and the older a fighter gets, the more rapidly their performances start to decline. When a fighter reaches the age of 34 they begin to rapidly slow down and they struggle to take as much damage as they could in their younger days. This is for two reasons. First of all their bodies cannot train as hard as they used to and secondly the wear and tear on their brain makes them more susceptible to knockouts.
Age is often overlooked but it is a very real advantage for fighters who are significantly younger than their opponent. It’s easy to picture both Dan Henderson and Shogun as aging veterans of the sport and whilst that is true, the biology behind that perception is quite different…
It seems like Shogun has been fighting forever so it might surprise you that he’s only 32 years old. This means that he is fighting in the peak period of his career, whereas Dan Henderson is approaching 44 years old! This 12 age gap is absolutely colossal in MMA and the statistics tell us that the younger fighter will win 75% of the time, when there is a 12 year age gap in a fight.
We’re currently in a transitional period of the UFC where many veterans are struggling to keep up with the new age of well rounded modern day Mixed Martial Artists. In order for guys like Shogun and Henderson to remain competitive, they need to evolve. Shogun has taken steps to develop his skills, whilst Henderson doesn’t seem to be changing at all, he’s just relying on the power and determination that earned him all his success in the past.
The lack of evolution in Henderson’s game is another significant factor that has convinced me that betting on Shogun is the smart thing to do. Shogun has been working his boxing with Freddie Roach over the last few years and he’s demonstrated vastly improved striking in his recent fights against James Te Huna and Alexander Gustafsson. I don’t see any improvement at all in Henderson’s fighting style and I believe this is the reason why he has lost his last 3 fights. People know what to expect when they fight Dan Henderson, because he doesn’t bring anything new to the table. This makes him easy to beat…
Henderson does have a punchers chance of winning this fight, but he’s going up against a guy who can take an ungodly amount of punishment. There aren’t many guys that can take a beating like Shogun and for that reason I doubt that Henderson will be able to knock him out. Shogun’s boxing is also vastly improved and he does an extremely good job of getting out of the way of dangerous strikes. Shogun should find it easy avoiding Henderson’s power punches, because he will know exactly what to expect, having already spent 25 minutes in the cage with him. At 44 years old Henderson is also a lot slower than he was back in 2011 and it’s easy to see those big shots coming.
The final factor which I believe will influence this fight is cardio. Neither of these guys has shown particularly great cardio throughout their careers, but there is absolutely no way that a 44 year old man will be able to fight at a high pace for 25 minutes, even if they are on TRT! Henderson will have to pace himself in this fight and he knows it. For that reason I expect Shogun to win the first couple of rounds by staying more active and picking Hendo apart.
You also have to factor in the humidity of fighting in Brazil and the fact that Henderson’s cardio looked completely shot towards the end of their last fight.
Home advantage plays a massive part in MMA, particularly in Brazil. After all, nobody wants to hear 20,000 Brazilians chanting “You’re going to die”. Shogun is a legend all over the world, but he’s a Mixed Martial Arts god in his homeland. Even if the crowd doesn’t effect Henderson’s performance, it’s certainly going to give Shogun a lift.
Initially I was reluctant to bet on Shogun, but I just can’t see him losing to a 44 year old man in his own back yard. His recent fights have also showed versatility which I believe will be the key to winning this fight. Alright, I know he got choked out by Chael Sonnen, but he looked great against James Te Huna and fought competitively for 3 rounds against Alexander Gustafsson just 14 months ago!
This betting tip is by no means a “lock” or a “dead cert” but I feel confident in it. I’ve watched the last 3 fights from both guys and I’ve got a pretty long list of reasons why I think Shogun will win, the only thing on my list for Henderson was “Hits Hard”. Many people will find value in betting on Henderson as a live underdog here, but I just don’t see it. The odds aren’t great on Shogun to win, but they’re just about good enough for me to get involved.
OUR BET: 10.00 UNITS ON MAURICIO “SHOGUN” RUA TO WIN AT 1.50 | -200 | 1/2
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