UFC has produced many memorable fights over the years, with some contests rising above the rest as truly exceptional. While there have been many incredible battles throughout the history of the sport, one fight stands out as arguably the greatest MMA fight of all time: the five-round war between Dan Henderson and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 139.
The bout took place on November 19, 2011, in San Jose, California, and was a clash between two of the most accomplished fighters in MMA history. Dan Henderson was a former Pride and Strikeforce champion who had fought and beaten some of the best fighters in the world, including Wanderlei Silva, Fedor Emelianenko, and Michael Bisping. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua was a former Pride champion himself, as well as a former UFC light heavyweight champion, and had defeated a who's who of MMA legends, including Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Lyoto Machida, and Chuck Liddell.
The fight was originally scheduled to take place at UFC 128 earlier in the year, but Henderson had to withdraw due to injury. When the fight was finally rescheduled for UFC 139, anticipation was high, and the two fighters did not disappoint.
From the opening bell, both Henderson and Rua were clearly in top form, exchanging blows with reckless abandon. Henderson landed his trademark right hand early in the first round, sending Rua to the canvas, but Rua quickly recovered and the two continued to trade punches for the remainder of the round.
The second round was even more intense, with Rua seemingly gaining the upper hand, landing several hard shots that had Henderson reeling. But Henderson refused to back down and came back strong in the third, landing a series of vicious leg kicks that left Rua limping.
The fourth round was more of the same, with both fighters continuing to trade blows and neither willing to give an inch. By this point, it was clear that this was not just a fight, but a battle of wills, with both men pushing themselves to the absolute limit.
Going into the fifth and final round, it was anyone's fight. Both Henderson and Rua were battered and bruised, but neither showed any signs of slowing down. The final five minutes were a fitting end to an unforgettable fight, with both fighters refusing to give up and giving it their all until the final bell.
When the fight was over, the judges' decision was unanimous: Dan Henderson had won the fight by decision. But the result was almost beside the point, as both fighters had put on a display of heart, skill, and courage that will be remembered by MMA fans for generations to come.
The fight between Dan Henderson and Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 139 is widely considered one of the greatest MMA fights of all time. It showcased the heart, skill, and determination of two of the greatest fighters in the history of the sport, and reminded us all of the incredible physical and mental demands of MMA. While there have been many great fights in the years since, it is hard to imagine any surpassing the epic battle that took place on that November night in San Jose.