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Dan Henderson

Daniel ‘Hollywood’ Henderson was born on August 24th, 1970 in Apple Valley, California. After wrestling throughout his time at Victor Valley High School in Victorville, California, Henderson went on to continue the sport at Arizona State University. Although he continued to compete and succeed on several American wrestling circuits, Henderson did not start his mixed martial arts training until the age of 27 when, at the urging of friend and noted fighter Randy Couture, he joined Couture’s Team Quest training club. After competing in the Olympics for the last time in 1996, Henderson agreed.

After moving to Las Vegas and training with Team Quest for only one year, Henderson won both the Brazil Open tournament and the UFC 17 tournament in 1998, taking out both Allan Goes and Carlos Newton in the second series. Seeing greater financial payoffs in the more famous Japanese fighting organizations, Henderson turned down a contract with the UFC to compete with the PRIDE and Rings organizations in Japan.

Henderson quickly entered the 1999 Rings King of Kings tournament and defeated two fighters in one night to qualify for the final round. He went on to take out Gilbert Yvel, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Renato Sobral to win the tournament and make a strong name for himself in the foreign country.

Switching to the PRIDE organization, Henderson began fighting as a heavyweight because there was no 185 pound division until years later. Despite the weight difference, Henderson continued to dominate his opponents, winning victories against notable fighters such as Wanderlei Silva and Ricardo Arona. The commencement of PRIDE’s Bushido tournaments introduced a weight class more suited to Henderson’s size and he top first place in their first ever 185 pound Grand Prix tournament by defeating Ryo Chonan and Akihiro Gono with a knockout each, then beating Murilo Bustamante with a very close decision in the final bout.

Henderson continued his participation in the Bushido events, defeating Kazuo Misaki with a unanimous decision at PRIDE Bushido 10. A rematch between the pair at PRIDE’s second 185 pound Grand Prix saw the underdog Misaki defeat Henderson in a close match with a unanimous decision.

Despite his great record, rumors that Henderson was winning close decisions at the behest of PRIDE organizers in an attempt to lure American viewers followed him doggedly; some internet commentators went so far as to nickname Henderson ‘Decision Dan.’

Henderson continued to fight and win despite the bad press, upsetting heavy favorite Wanderlei Silva with a knockout at PRIDE 33 in Las Vegas and claiming the middleweight title for himself.

Ultimate Fighting Championship CEO Dana White, in an announcement given after UFC 71, stated that Henderson would be returning to the UFC to challenge Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson for the UFC light heavyweight championship. The fight was quickly scheduled for the UFC 75 event being held in London, England.

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