MMA Champion Dan “Hendo” Henderson gives us a glimpse into what it was like to be a world champion MMA fighter. Above all else, Dan exemplifies that a passion and love for what you do can be the most important aspect of keeping your mind and body healthy.


Listen to the podcast here:

The Heart Of An MMA Champion with Dan Henderson

Our guest is a dear friend of mine who his words and his text thread with me got me through my rehab. This is a guy who has been in battle and real-life fights for most of his life. Not only was he in the Olympics, but he also fought all over the world and maintained two title belts at the same time, two different weight classes. He’s Dan Henderson. If anyone knows the fight world, imagine you getting hit by a freight train going full speed. Either of his hands connects with you and you’re lights out.

How did he help you?

I was ready to give up and throw in the towel several times. I’ll never forget this text he sent to me. He says, “If you don’t get your ass up and going, I’m going to come over and beat you like a drum.” I knew the power of what Dan Henderson has over me that if I don’t get my ass up and going and start to move and get in my therapy, then it would be much worse facing him.

This was when?

In 2011, 2012. Dan have been there. I was at Dan’s fight against Shogun and Fedor, each separate fights that week and a couple of weeks before when he was defending his belts. Sitting there at ringside feeling the effects of my stroke but enamored and in awe of what Dan was doing in the ring that I ignored my symptoms. I was focused on what Dan was doing and I was afraid of him getting hurt, which to say the least not only being a wonderful fighter but he’s a great father, husband and a business owner.

You told me a wonderful quote from him about why he’s won.

This guy’s fought all over the world for twenty years. He’s had some tough fights. I’m talking about long, drawn out, blood in, blood out fights. He said to me, “Seany, I may have won belts and fought several times, but I had never been through a fight like you’re fighting or what you battled in the past.” I never realized that because here I am talking to a champion. That struck a chord with me saying, “We’re all warriors out there and we’re always in battle and we always feel pain, but it’s what we want to do with it to show up.” This guy always shows up. He’s never afraid to back down from anything and anything he touches, he’s successful at. It’s something to learn from Dan Henderson as well.

Our audience will notice that I’m not one of the hosts on the podcast. I was absent but I was there listening. What I learned from Dan Henderson by sitting there listening to him tell his story was not that there was some magic trick he was doing to help him show up. There wasn’t some secret sauce that nobody else was doing that he was doing. What it was is he loved what he did. That sounds simple but when you’re fighting at the level he was fighting and you don’t love what you do, your body whether you realize it consciously or not is going to be in essence giving up on you. What was interesting about Dan was he never had any crazy injuries. He got injured from fighting, but it comes back to he loved what he did so much that his body was ready to get back in the ring as soon as possible.

He accepted beating. He healed himself by his mind. I always say to everybody, he may not have been the best talent in the ring, but he had the biggest heart. The one with the biggest heart always wins, and that’s Dan Henderson.

That’s you now.

Yes, sir. Everybody who reads this blog has the heart for it.

We’ll jump right in there but if you haven’t got the chance, drop over to iTunes, leave us a five-star review. Show us some love and listen to Dan Henderson. Learn something from him.

He’s remarkable. If you guys do know of him or don’t, the best way to sum it up. Dan, at the height of his career, was probably one of the biggest stars to be in the UFC or the fight world ever. He inspires everybody. Check him out, please.

Sean had someone special to him here. He’s known him since 2000 and they both have been in each other’s lives and gotten each other through some bumps here and there along the way, just a few. That person is Dan Henderson who is a world-renown MMA fighter. You could imagine that someone like Dan has sustained a lot of physical trauma over the years. Dan, you and Sean have both been in each other’s lives for many years and you both went through some traumatic experiences. People know Sean’s been through a stroke, he’s several years out and you were there for him when he went through that. Sean’s been there with you when you’ve suffered a lot of injuries throughout your fighting career.

It’s been a pleasure to know Sean and I don’t know of anybody else that could have kept as positive and such a great mindset through such a traumatic experience as he has. He thinks other people inspire him, but he definitely inspires a lot of people.

Sean, you do draw your inspiration from others, but you do give a lot of inspiration as well. It’s taken a lot for you to come back several years post stroke. You’ve done a lot of things which have led you to the show that we’re doing now for people to explore their opportunities and take advantage of the things that are out there to help them heal. Dan, you’ve had a lifetime career of battling it out literally. Over the years, you’ve suffered a lot of physical trauma here and there throughout your MMA career.

The nature of the industry, people would think that. I stayed fairly healthy most of the time. There were injuries and things you worked through. To my benefit, I was always mentally tough and didn’t focus on the negatives and the injuries and tried to push through them. If I had to adapt to any change of my style a little bit for certain matches because of an injury, I would work around it.

Sean, throughout your friendship and all the times that Dan has fought and taken hits, what are some of the injuries you remember that Dan has gone through?

Whenever you get hit by a guy who’s bigger and you get knocked out. He gets back up. The reason why Dan wins so much was that of his heart. He’s got the biggest heart out there. There are a lot of people who said, “I’m an MMA star,” but Dan was the epitome of not just a good fighter and a smart guy, but he has the biggest heart on that mat at any one time. That’s what got him through his battles.

It definitely helped. Between that and the time I put in the gym, I would like to think that all of it helped out. That’s part of having a big heart is be mentally tough and not having any quitting.

Who hit the hardest, Dan?

I know that Fedor hits hard, Wanderlei hits pretty hard. Those are probably the two hardest hitters that I’ve found or that hit me the hardest. There have been times where I’ve been knocked silly.

If you don’t love what you do, your body, whether you realize it consciously or not, is going to be, in essence, giving up on you. Click To Tweet

After that Shogun fight, you fought him for five rounds. After that fight, you were mentally exhausted. You were tired. How’d you heal from that fight?

I wasn’t that injured in the fight. I was worn out but beat up wise as far as anything permanent. I landed funny and my thumb bent a little bit backward. That’s about the only thing that hurt me for a few weeks.

You fought this guy for five rounds and your thumb hurts and that was it. No other injuries from Shogun. The Fedor fight, you had some stitches I believe.

A couple of stitches underneath one of my eyes.

I know that a lot of physical contact sports like the players in the NFL and boxing and some of these other contact sports that take a toll on the body. We hear a lot of stories of people who are professional athletes who have to resort to some pretty tough things physically but also resort to some ways of healing that maybe aren’t the best. You hear of some of these athletes getting hooked on pain pills and whatever it is they need to get them through to make them continue to perform. How much of that did you see in the fight world? How much did you see your colleagues and fellow fighters try other ways to heal so they could keep going?

Directly around me, I didn’t have that many people that were in that circumstance or in that category. Personally, I don’t like taking things if I don’t have to. Over the years, during training camp, I would take an anti-inflammatory semi-regularly after training camp or after the fights over. I try to cut it out until the next fight happens. When I start training hard and my neck and back start feeling like an old man, I start taking some anti-inflammatories. Other than that, that’s pretty much the only thing I’ve ever taken as far as that goes. People mentally think that they need certain things to get by and maybe they do mentally. A better approach to it would be to have it in your mindset that you don’t need anything like that to win or get through the day or the practice.

You’re quite tough mentally too not just physically because it takes a lot of mental training and willpower to not want to say, “I can take something and that’ll help the pain to help me fight through whatever injury I’m trying to fight through.” I would imagine if you’re in a lot of pain, you want it to stop. That would be the easiest thing to do. I can’t imagine that there’s a lot of thought given when an athlete is in extreme pain or suffered a physical setback that they wouldn’t want to take a quick way out. What are some of the ways you have healed since you don’t rely on prescription medication? You’ve had to have ways to naturally heal besides mentally, which is a big part of it too. You’ve had to have some natural ways for you to get through it and heal.

I’m probably pretty old school where I push through it and it slowly goes away. Nowadays, there are many things that I didn’t know about that probably weren’t around back then. If they were, I didn’t know about them, that are a clean, healthy way to heal a lot faster. They use peptides for quite a few different things, amino acid chains and different blends of them to do different things for the body. It’s amazing what they can do nowadays with that. Now, we have a cryo machine at my facility that ices you down. It’s like an ice bath after practice. You can do that every day and that definitely helps with the healing, inflammation and recovery.

Would you say that gives you pretty good relief? To find cryo places now, they’re far and few between. I don’t see a lot of coverage being given to it as a tool to heal. It’s one of those things that, at least for me, appears to be one of those tools that only professional athletes know about and some active people. It’s not something you’d go to the doctor’s office and your doctor would say, “You should try some of these amino acids and the cryo machine. We’ll start you out there.” Typically, it’s always been my experience that they just say, “Here’s the pain prescription and feel better.”

AIH 14 | MMA Champion

MMA Champion: Be mentally tough and don’t focus on the negatives and the injuries, but try to push through them.


That’s a typical MD-type approach to it. A lot of them don’t think outside the box. If professional athletes, the ones that are beating themselves up, if they’re using certain things to recover that are healthy and don’t hurt the body in any way, you would think you’d look into it a little bit more. Cryo hasn’t been around for that long, ice baths have. Everybody ices things, even doctors say to ice things and it’s a way to do that. It’s also for your whole body that the cryo machines will increase circulation, which speeds up recovery and injuries healing from that. I liked having it close by and it got here pretty much right at the end of my career or after I retired, somewhere in that range. I didn’t get to utilize it during my career, but I’ve done a lot of practices and training since then and feeling a little bit older and that helps keep me young.

What does that feel like? I still haven’t done it. It’s something I’ve wanted to try, but how do you feel when you’re in there and then when you get out? That’s something I wanted to try but I’ve heard nothing but good things from people who use it on a consistent basis.

It’s cold. It will get you down to negative 140 something degrees. You typically stay for two to three minutes. I’m usually in there three minutes. I don’t like the cold, but I can handle that pretty well.

Looking back now, what’s the hardest fight you fought or the toughest or the most injuries? The one you remember the most going, “That really hurt.”

To answer that question, it wasn’t one fight. It was one night of fighting when I fought in the Rings Tournament. I fought three guys in the night for the final night. It was the quarters, the semis, and the finals were all in one night.

It was in Japan. This was before the UFC even existed. This is the predawn of all of it. No one will fight three fights again ever in one night. That’s all banned and illegal.

I don’t know if it’s illegal, but they don’t do it nearly as much.

How many rounds was that in one night?

It was like how they do The Ultimate Fighter where it’s two rounds unless it’s a draw then it’s three. There was a lot of action in my first fight of the night. I was worn out and tired. They were all heavyweights. It was an unlimited weight class.

Part of having a big heart is to be mentally tough and not quitting. Click To Tweet

You were in the heavyweight tournament? Did you walk around at what weight back then?

I was probably under 200, 195.

You were fighting guys 235, 225?

The biggest guy I fought was in the 255 range. There was one Russian wrestler and then Babalu. He was about that heavy back then. I fought Big Nog that night too. I fought both of them the same night. Big Nog in my second fight that night jumped to guard from the clench and landed on my knee and popped my knee pretty bad. That was tough to get through the rest of that fight. I had one more fight. I had about a twenty-minute rest in between fights.

Did you win that whole thing?

I won the whole tournament.

How old were you?

I was 31.

How did you even get started in the MMA world? You got to be pretty confident and you got to be mentally strong to want a career in this. You’ve had a phenomenal, tremendous career.

AIH 14 | MMA Champion

MMA Champion: Ice baths and cryo machines will increase circulation which speeds up recovery and healing from injuries.


I don’t think I ever planned on having a career in MMA. I watched it on TV and Randy Couture and I was training partners in wrestling for a few years. We both were watching it and thinking it was a little crazy. Maybe we’d be good at it. Randy decided he was going to try and put an application into the UFC and got turned down.

You had to fill out like a job application?

You’d say, “Come look at me,” and then they turned him down. He was scheduled to fight in this tournament in Brazil. He calls me up and says, “They got a lightweight tournament. Do you want to fight in that also? Their lightweight was less than 175 pounds. I had to cut quite a bit of weight for it. Last minute, Randy got a call from the UFC. Somebody got hurt and they said, “Do you want to fight?” That was his entrance into the UFC. Big Cat Tom Erikson took Randy’s place down in Brazil and that was within two weeks of each other. Randy and I both started fighting at the same time.

You were wrestling before? You were a wrestler?

I still wrestled after that. I was doing both for a few years.

It sounds like you stumbled into this fight world and I don’t imagine that it works that way anymore.

For me, I was a wrestler and there’s zero money in wrestling. It’s hard to support yourself. I was trying to make a third Olympic team and I needed a little bit of money to keep wrestling. I was like, “I’ll give it a try,” and I did pretty well at it. I fought again a year later in the UFC and did pretty well there. A year later I fought in Japan and that King of Kings Tournament. After that, I quit wrestling and was going to fight for about a year and make some money and then call it quits. Many years later I was still fighting.

What is the average lifespan of an MMA fighter? That seems like a long time to be able to make it.

I was shy of twenty years is what it came.

People mentally think that they need certain things to get by, and maybe they do mentally. Click To Tweet

In the NFL, it’s six years.

Who else has come close to having that length of a career actively?

Vitor Belfort, who’s still actively fighting, his career might’ve been prolonged because of his “enhancement supplements.” He’s been around a long time. There are a few guys that were there a long time. Randy was there for a while, but he probably went closer to fifteen years or a little less. There definitely are a few guys that were in there, but not at the quite the top level that I was fighting most of my career.

It’s not just you were there. You sustained that level for that many years. What would you say in nowadays fight world? How long guys usually last?

There are many more fighters now. Maybe it’s a little tougher to get towards the top. You don’t stand out as early these days. Maybe five to ten years tops.

Do you still miss the fighting?

I miss a little bit of the fighting or the competition of it. I don’t miss the preparation at all.

When you watch a fight now on TV or somewhere else at your home, what goes on in your mind or your heart? Do you go, “I want to be on that stage?” Do you miss the fame? Do you miss the money? Do you miss the people?

I don’t think that goes through my head hardly ever. Once in a while, I see a guy fighting and I think, “It’d be fun to see how I’d do against him,” but no bad thoughts at all. I’m completely satisfied with what I did in my career and how I ended up. A little screw up quite at the end, but I don’t think it was on my part.

AIH 14 | MMA Champion

MMA Champion: There are many more fighters now. It’s a little tougher to get towards the top. You don’t stand out as early these days.


If you were to go back, what’s the one fight you still wanted or still didn’t get to do, if there’s one guy you want to compete with?

I was scheduled to fight Jon Jones and that’s the one fight out of an almost twenty-year career that I had to pull out of. I’ve never pulled out of a fight before that. I had hurt my knee and we’re still thinking I was going to fight and my team the week-and-a-half before said, “No, there’s no way.” That’s the only fight I’ve pulled out of and never got to do.

You must come up all the time. People checking in with you on social media or personal friends saying, “I heard that you were set to fight so and so.” Do you still get people thinking that you’re going to step back into the ring and surprise everybody?

Occasionally and there’s been a rumor evidently that I’m fighting Tito in the next Golden Boy Promotion, but I have no clue where that came from or why it’s even out there. I haven’t considered going back at all. Nobody’s offered me anything worth considering yet.

How would you do with Tito?

I’d do great. Maybe not tomorrow but a few months from now.

Let’s say that you had three months to prepare, what does Dan Henderson do in those three months?

Get in shape.

What does that mean?

Don't do anything stupid where you're hurting yourself. A fine line there is to push it but not too hard. Click To Tweet

That means getting into hard practice with my team every day and then doing some cross training as well for cardio and weights. Typically, towards the end of my career, I did less repetition but more intense. I still had the intense training but a little less the tedious repetition and tried to get my body as much rest as I could. I still get all the cardio I needed, but I started spending way too much time on my couch after practice and not enough time with my kids and too tired to do other things. I was still completely capable of competing at that level, but at what cost? It was costing me a lot of time elsewhere and where I didn’t have the energy to do it.

Your wife says, “You’re not fighting anymore and you’re done.”

She didn’t say that, but she said she’d like me to fight again. She misses the social aspect of fight week. All the friends and family, we all get together and everybody’s having a good vacation for a week while I’m about to fight. She misses fight week. She doesn’t miss fight night.

Out of all the ways you’ve healed, repaired yourself, and got yourself ready for the next fight. What are some of your preferred ways when you’ve come back from some of the harder things to come back from? You did have surgery.

I’ve had a number of surgeries over the years. I’ve had a ACL meniscus surgery and I fought a few months later in Pride in Japan. I wasn’t looking to fight then, they asked and asked again. They didn’t force me but almost forced me to get in there a little bit early and fight. Making sure you’re doing enough rehab and not babying yourself too much, but at the same time don’t do anything stupid to where you’re hurting yourself. A fine line there is to push it but not too hard. I was always able to walk that line pretty well and mentally push through things but not hurt myself.

What were some of the things? Did you do a lot of vitamins? Did you change your diet? What were all the things that added up to your recovery?

I definitely would take vitamins or do a protein shake with different multivitamins in there, vitamin Cs and a bunch of different stuff that the wife would throw in the blender in the morning. The green drinks to help with that as well. Try to be healthy. My coach in wrestling when I was younger throughout my whole life pretty much through two Olympic teams, my coach was pretty into nutrition as well. Making sure we were taking a lot of extra pills and a lot of amino acids and big old horse pills of amino acids and various vitamins. Nothing illegal, nothing of the sort. That’s how I grew up doing that and kept that throughout my adulthood as well throughout my career.

Do you think that’s one of the reasons why you lasted so long?

Maybe and the fact I didn’t have an ego in training to where I’m not beating myself up when it didn’t mean anything. That helps tremendously. I’m not in there trying to beat somebody and get my head knocked in and take a lot of blows that way and/or hurt yourself, hurt one of your joints or knees or elbows or anything unnecessarily. I was always smart with my training and not beating myself up too bad, but still getting an intense and hard practice. I had the approach where if you’re going to train to fight, you have to fight in training sometimes, but not every day.

AIH 14 | MMA Champion

MMA Champion: The mental toughness is something that separates the top tier guys that are able to be number one from the guys that aren’t number one.


It sounds like this and I’ve heard from other professional athletes too that it’s as much mental preparation as it is physical and mental strength as well. How did you stay mentally fit?

The mental toughness is definitely something that separates the top tier guys that are able to be number one from the guys that aren’t number one. I could be the most talented, best in shape, and strongest athlete out there. If I mentally wasn’t strong, I’ll never be number one guy. I won’t ever be the top. Having a strong mental attitude and mental toughness will make up for where you lack in other ways a lot more than the other way around, once you get towards the top tier of your sport.

What were some of the things though that kept your ego and your mental fitness in shape? Did you spend time alone? Did you spend time doing stretching, yoga, hiking, or getting out there into nature? Some of the things that reset you and recharge you.

I do like to hunt. I enjoyed what I did and every opponent that I would be scheduled to fight brought a different type of excitement. I would be excited if I had a guy that was good at certain things. I’d work on that a little more and come up with a game plan and I was excited to go out and test myself against that person. There have been a couple of fights where I wasn’t overly excited to fight, and it shows sometimes a little bit. For the most part, I enjoyed what I did. The preparation is the toughest part of it, but I still stayed to where I was excited to train for the fight as well, for the most part. It got a little tougher as I got older, but mentally I still had the drive to reach certain goals and knew what I had to sacrifice to get there.

What you needed to pull out from within to make it happen. Now, Dan Henderson is a businessman. You’re not so much in the ring anymore. You’re out of the ring and you are creating businesses. You have your gym that you have fights regularly scheduled and you’ve got something else coming up as well.

It’s our second fight night we’re hosting ourselves and promoting ourselves. I started doing that. My gym’s been here for a number of years and I’ve had a lot of different fighters come through here as well as regular people that are trying to get in shape and that’s the most of what it is. It’s like a big family atmosphere here. We’re pretty happy with the atmosphere here. Coming soon next door to the gym in the same building is going to be a brewery distillery restaurant that we’re pretty excited about that I’ve been working on for a few years to put this together and it’s finally close to being able to break ground on it. The architects are working on the plan. Hopefully, mid-2019 we’ll be able to enjoy some of our own food and liquor and beer coming out of the location.

What is it going to be called? What can we expect to come out of it?

The restaurant and the location are going to be called Hendo’s Barrel House, and then the beer and liquor brand is going to be called Seven Bells Beer or Seven Bells Spirit.

Why Seven Bells? There’s a significance?

If you're going to train to fight, you have to fight in training. Click To Tweet

Seven bells came from the old nautical days where they used the bell system to communicate. If they ring eight bells, that means somebody died. If they ring seven bells, there’s a saying seven bells all is well. It also means that you made it through, everything’s okay, or you almost died. You got your ass kicked and made it through the night and now everything’s okay. It had a little bit of correlation with me and my MMA career. I liked the name when it was brought to my attention.

You’re also going to have then Seven Bells, your own alcohol that you are going to be putting out there with your name on it as well. What can people expect when they come to your new restaurant?

I plan on being here quite a bit and being a part of the restaurant in the location and watching fights here. We’ll be more of a country bar. Expect some country music and fights on TV. It will be a sports bar, country bar feel to it. We’re brewing our own various kinds of beer and distilling our own alcohol. We’ll have a number of different types of alcohols, not just vodkas or not just whiskeys. We’ll have a little bit of everything.

This is in Temecula, California. Wherever you are if you want to make a trip out and you’re a huge MMA fan. There’s a good chance that after your place opens that fans from all over the world, which you do have, could see you.

I get people from out of town that is here to see all the wineries or to visit somebody that pop in hoping to see me. Every time, “I didn’t expect to see you, but I was hoping.” I’m usually here during the week most days. I happen to do a different job now.

Is this going to be attached to the gym that you have now?

It will be attached to the same building. You’ll be able to have a beer and overlook the gym a little bit and see what’s going on, watching practice or whatever’s going on inside the gym. You’ll be able to see most of that.

It’s not just watching the pay-per-view or the UFC channel, watching the fights. You can actually watch people training if you want to in the gym while you’re having a drink or dinner or whatever.

I don’t think there’s anything else out there like it as far as any type of MMA gym that allows that to happen and has a brewery, distillery, and restaurant connected to it. I’m pretty excited about it. Our town is definitely being known more and more every year for the wineries here. Over the last couple of years, a number of breweries have popped up locally. Distillery, craft spirits are right behind the craft beer industry. We’re going to do both in the same house.

AIH 14 | MMA Champion

MMA Champion: There’s a number of different ways to do certain things.


I’m looking forward to that and visiting that. Before we go, everybody has a why and everybody has something that gets them through whatever it is they need to get through. For you all these years, what has been your why? What do you want people to take away from Dan Henderson the dad, Dan Henderson the fighter, and Dan Henderson the H-Bomb? The thing that keeps you going now, your why.

That’s probably a question I could think about for a couple of years and still not have an answer. In my MMA career, it was because I loved it and loved the competition and being able to test myself against that.

Your kids are such a why because after every fight I was at you always said hello to your kids. You did a shout out to everyone watching at the house.

I definitely love my kids and I am thankful to have them in my life and they’re healthy.

The question is, if your kids decided to professionally fight? Are you for it? Are you against it?

I would be for it, but I don’t think I’m going to have that problem. My oldest is nineteen, she plays volleyball and she’s in college already. My only son likes to golf. He quit wrestling a couple of years ago to focus on golf a little more. He’s the only boy and I don’t know if the girls are interested in doing anything like this.

What about the fighters who come and get inside the gym? What do you tell them if they get hurt? If they want to fight, what do you prepare them for? How do you prepare them?

I have a number of coaches here that help out as well.

You’re still the main guy?

I’m here and I’m at most practices. Most of the time I don’t have to teach much because these coaches have been with me for so long that they do things that I would show anyway. I would add to some of the things that they’re showing. There are a number of different ways to do certain things and I would help out and point out doing things a little bit better and making sure all the guys are doing things. I’m trying to be at practice almost every day, but I’m here probably at practice at least three days a week hopefully giving some positive effect on them.

We traveled to Tokyo and I showed a picture of us in Tokyo to a couple of the Japanese people and they’re quiet and they’re all reserved and their conservative. As soon as they saw that picture of you, they went berserk and crazy. The first thing I said to Dan was that, “You have fans over here.” Do you know what he said to me? He said, “Tell them I said hi.” I started laughing at him. I was like, “Yeah, of course.” The legend, what you’ve built, the name, the brand in Japan and then overseas is awesome. It’s a credit to your heart and then your resilience and your inspiration of many people you’ve touched, which is unbelievable to be your friend.

Thank you. I definitely tried to do my best overall.

There’s zero ego with you anyways. There never was. You took the ego out in the cage.

You got to have some ego to be doing as well as I did, but most of the time I don’t feel I had an ego.

Dan Henderson, world-renowned MMA fighter taking a few moments with us on the show to talk about how he spent his years fighting and healing. Dan, thank you so much.

My pleasure. Thank you.

Thanks, Dan.

Important Links:

About Dan Henderson

AIH 14 | MMA Champion

Daniel Jeffery Henderson (born August 24, 1970) is an American former mixed martial artist and Olympic wrestler, who last competed as a middleweight in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He was the last Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion and was the last Welterweight (80 kg (176.4 lb)) and Middleweight (95 kg (209.4 lb)) champion of Pride Fighting Championships. Additionally, Henderson was the Brazil Open ’97 Tournament Champion, the UFC 17 Middleweight Tournament Champion, the Rings: King of Kings 1999 Tournament Champion and the Pride Welterweight Grand Prix Tournament Champion. During his career, Henderson also challenged for the UFC Middleweight Championship (2x), the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship and the Strikeforce Middleweight Championship. He was the first mixed martial artist to concurrently hold two titles in two different weight classes in a major MMA promotion. At the time of his retirement after UFC 204, he was the oldest fighter on the UFC roster. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time, having defeated a total of twenty-one MMA world champions across four major MMA promotions (UFC, PRIDE FC, Strikeforce, and RINGS).

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