Lyoto Machida is a tricky opponent, but Dan Henderson believes he has the game plan to beat him Saturday at UFC 157.
Ahead of the matchup, Henderson joined the Sherdog Radio Network’s “It’s Time” show with Bruce Buffer to discuss Machida, the possibility of a title shot and more.
On whether he’s fully recovered from the knee injury that kept him from fighting Jon Jones: “I’m ready to go. It’s not going to bother me in the fight at all.”
On Machida’s ability to control distance: “That’s probably the toughest part about fighting him is getting that range and kind of chasing him down a little bit without following him too much, just cutting him off and getting that distance right.”
On Machida’s striking: “He’s quick. I think in general I need to kind of not wait for him. That quickness that he has, if I’m sitting there waiting and he’s the one attacking, it makes it even tougher to counter. I think I need to be definitely controlling the pace of the fight. If I just wait on the outside and follow him around, that’s exactly what he loves. If I give him space, he loves to be able to run around and hopefully lull you a little bit into relaxing so he can rush at you with a nice straight left.”
On whether he had training partners who could mimic Machida: “It’s a little bit awkward. He moves around a lot. You get guys that move around a lot, and that’s the biggest thing. You get a couple of guys that are pretty quick and kick a lot and stop and counterpunch. It’s not that unheard of or that awkward. He’s different for sure, but I definitely have guys here that can mimic him well enough.”
On whether it bothers him that Chael Sonnen got the light heavyweight title shot against Jon Jones: “Obviously I’m friends with Chael and always wish the best for him, but in general for the sport, I thought it kind of just degraded the title a little bit when you get a guy that’s not even top 10, coming off a loss at the weight below, giving him a title shot. It doesn’t encourage some of the up-and-comer guys to really train hard, to think they might get passed over because the title shots aren’t really fair to who’s deserving of it but who can bring in the most pay-per-view dollars. But I’ve been around a while and I understand that. It is what it is, but at the same time, I didn’t agree with it. But I’m not the one running the company.”
On what winning a UFC title would mean to him: “It definitely would be kind of the cherry on top of my career. It’s definitely a goal of mine and something I plan on achieving before I’m done. If it happens now or if it happens after two or three fights -- I don’t plan on losing anymore fights, so I think it’s inevitable that that will happen.”
On how he feels and how much longer he plans on fighting: “I would say two or three [more] years. … Some days I feel like a 20-year-old. Some days I feel like a 60-year-old. Usually training camp wears me down a little bit and I’m worn out, but towards the end of training camp, when I begin to taper off and look to peak, I feel quite a bit younger. That’s where I’m at right now. I’m feeling pretty good. Honestly, my body was beat-up a little bit more when I used to wrestle. I feel good, but my kids are pretty active and as they get into high school, they’re going to keep me even busier than they do now. That’s time you never get back, so I want to make sure that I’ll be able to spend that time with them.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 15:25).