T Nation

Shogun Rua vs Dan Henderson II


Anybody pumped for this epic sequel?

A quick reminder of what we’re talking

It’s a bit of a guilty pleasure, considering the matchup is perfect for serving one very rare steak with extra tomato ketchup:
Two plodding, iron chinned sluggers with exponentially more heart than speed or finesse.

The first fight was a moral draw, although the refs saw Hendo as a clear victor.

What shape will they be in?
From what I read, Dan can replace his most precious hormone for one final time.
Mr. Rua looked unspectacular as always during weigh-in, so no great difference in perceived shape.

Strategy wise, let’s start with Dan:
What really went well was the pace and timing. No need to change that.
Dan was controlling much of the rythm and distance of round 1-3, even though the Brazilian was usually the one pressuring.

Defense against Shogun’s go-to takedowns should be practised, however.

Shogun has to be more creative in his setups and use more tempo variation.

Takedowns, which were a surprisingly big part of his gameplan shouldn’t be forced from clinch - these were costly in terms of endurance.
(But maybe that WAS the idea, wearing down the old wrestler with wrestling?)
Instead, Shogun should rely on his scrambling and counters. For straight takedowns Rua just lacks the raw speed nowadays.

Tactic & Technique wise, we shouldn’t expect Dan to do anything different; the man is 43.
It’s hard to imagine he’ll surprise us with something.
Other than his grit, of course.

What Dan -who btw is on a three-match-losing-streak- surely will avoid this time is underestimating Shogun’s ability to counter while getting tagged against the cage.
I fully expect Hendo to be more cautious here, throwing two or three hands and then clinching up for some dirty boxing.

Shogun on the other hand, has plenty of options:
He can have a nice offensive jab if he wants- that’s one big tool to victory.
A snappy front kick here and there won’t hurt either.

His coaches will surely drilled a good counter against Dan’s left-inside-right-hook combo. A move that Hendo had so much success with not only versus Rua (connecting hard at least twice) but against many opponents.

What do you think?

I think Shogun tends to under perform, and under performs the worst against wrestlers.

He never looks good against a double leg, though Hendo is not who I think of when I think freestyle takedowns, and he can gas out at inopportune times (and in fights where he seems like he was motivated).

I don’t think any strategy for Rua that tries to “gas” Dan is a good one. Henderson almost always has “good enough” conditioning and is more than willing to let opportunities go or plod along to maintain his reserves.

I think the jab is a great idea for Rua(of course I think it is great for anyone). If Hendo tries to bull through it Rua needs to side step and just land something. IF Dan stays at range or backs up Rua MUST make something happen with leg kicks or punches. I think the key is to do “enough” to win two rounds, and not try to destroy Hendo. If something is there, take it, but don’t force a damn thing. Worst thing to do, think “Vitor KO’d him so I need to KO him faster.”

For Hendo: Suck him into a close range fight. Stay outside of kicking range, or inside where hooks and dirty boxing work so well. I think Hendo will be better conditioned, so making Rua work against the cage or defend takedowns is good. Jab early, and make him feel the right hand or left hook at least once early on. On paper Hendo should always lose this if it is a kickboxing match. He wins them by being durable, and by hitting so fucking hard that good fighters have to alter their games or risk getting taken out.

I will pick Hendo.

Regards,

Robert A

Tough fight to call. I am cheering for Hendo, but my gut says Shogun takes this one. I think it is unlikely that this fight with be as good as the first one, but I hope I am wrong.