As Dan Henderson prepared to face Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title this past September, Chael Sonnen served as a training partner in his camp. When “Hendo” was forced to withdraw from the UFC 151 bout due to a knee injury, an opportunistic Sonnen offered to fill the void in the main event.
The rest, despite being less than six months ago, already feels like ancient history. Jones refused to face Sonnen on short notice, ultimately leading to the first cancellation of a UFC event in promotion history. The two fighters were then given coaching roles on Season 17 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” and will square off at UFC 159 on April 27.
Henderson, meanwhile, recovered from his injury and could be in line to face the Jones-Sonnen winner – provided he gets past Lyoto Machida next weekend at UFC 157. If the stars align, Henderson could be pitted against his pal Sonnen at a later date.
That possibility suits the former two-division Pride Fighting Championships titlist just fine.
“We’re in a sport and sometimes friends have to fight,” Henderson recently told Fox 11 Los Angeles sports anchor James Koh. “It’s not a fight I’d be asking for or wanting. But if he has the title he has to fight whoever and if I’m the guy to have the next title shot I’d absolutely fight him.”
Henderson might not admit it, but Sonnen is a far more favorable matchup for him than Jones, whose reach and myriad offensive skills have made him a difficult puzzle for the entire 205-pound division. If the self-proclaimed “Gangster from West Linn” were to shock the world in two months, there would be no conflict of emotions from Henderson, a la the situation that went down between Novia Uniao stablemates Eduardo Dantas and Marcos Galvao at Bellator 89.
Henderson was less than thrilled when Sonnen was awarded a title shot without garnering a single 205-pound victory inside the Octagon, and he was not shy about making his feelings known on Twitter. Reality says that a Henderson-Sonnen title showdown is the least likely of all potential scenarios, as both men are underdogs in their upcoming bouts. However, one well-placed H-bomb to the dome of Sonnen might give the Team Quest co-founder some much needed closure to a series of frustrating events that began in September.