Henderson hangs on to beat Rua

NEIL SPRINGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:14 AM ET

TORONTO - Dan Henderson edged Mauricio (Shogun) Rua in one of the greatest fights in MMA history.

For 25 minutes the two went toe-to-toe, brawling all over the octagon at UFC 139 Saturday. Henderson asserted himself early, dropping Rua on numerous occasions with heavy punches. But no matter how many shots he threw on the mat, the MMA legend could not put Rua away.

As the bout entered the later rounds, Rua proved to be the better conditioned competitor and took the fight to Henderson. With both men bloodied in the fifth round, Rua got Henderson to mat and unloaded with strikes while frantically looking for submissions, but couldn’t seal the deal.

After five spectacular rounds, the judges awarded the fight to Henderson with unanimous scores of 48-47. Though the bout could have easily been a draw if Rua’s dominant 5th round was scored 10-8.

“All I can say is that guy can take a F’n punch,” an exhausted Henderson said. “I hit him hard in the first three rounds, but he stayed in and finished the fight. I knew I won the first three rounds.

“It very well could be (the toughest fight of my career).”

With the victory, Henderson could be next in line for the winner of Jon Jones vs. Lyoto Machida in Toronto Dec. 10.

A disappointed Rua apologized for his performance.

“Sorry, I will be better next time,” a battered Rua said. “He was very strong ... congratulations for Dan Henderson.”

Wanderlei Silva proved he still has some fight left in him, stopping Cung Le with strikes in the co-main event.

Silva survived an early scare after Le dropped him with a slick spinning back fist. But as Le began to slow in the second round, Silva rocked him with a big right and then swarmed with knees and punches in vintage style.

After Le missed a desperation takedown attempt, Silva unloaded with hammer-fists for the win.

“This is an amazing moment for me,” Silva said.

“He’s a real tough guy. He kicked me hard. After I hit him, I felt in that moment it was the finish.”

Urijah Faber destroyed Brian Bowles, securing himself another shot against bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz.

Faber’s speed and footwork proved to be the deciding factor, as he continually tagged Bowles while avoiding counter shots. After dropping Bowles with a well-timed uppercut, Faber slapped on a guillotine choke for the submission.

“Dominick, you can run but you can’t hide, homeboy,” Faber said. “I knew that Bowles is very tough. His biggest thing is he’s mentally strong and that’s my biggest thing.

“Call that (uppercut) the T.J. Dillashaw. You guys have seen T.J. on The Ultimate Fighter. He’s my boy.”

Martin Kampmann ended his two-fight losing streak, winning a competitive split decision over Rick Story.

Story came out aggressive in the first round, bloodying Kampmann with wild and heavy punches. But Kampmann weathered the storm and settled the pace, making it a more technical stand-up battle. After sensing Story was slowing down, Kampmann surprisingly out-grappled the former collegiate wrestler.

Stephan Bonnar dominated Kyle Kingsbury en route to a lopsided unanimous decision.

Though the TUF finalist continually worked for submissions, the crowd booed the lack of finish. Bonnar apologized profusely following the bout.

“I’m not used to fans booing during my fights, but it’s tough to get wins in here,” Bonnar said.

“I was looking to get him to the ground and submit him. I was able to get him down and control him.”

Keeping the atonement ball rolling, Bonnar then apologized to Josh Koscheck for using his likeliness on a T-shirt without permission.

Ryan Bader put Jason Brilz to sleep with a stiff straight right in the final preliminary bout.

Though it appeared to be a glancing blow, the shot clipped Brilz in the ear. After losing his last two bouts, Bader said he was relieved to get an impressive win.

“I’ve been working a lot; losing sucks,” Bader said. “I’ve been working a lot with Ray Sefo...(Brilz) eased back and I caught him with that big right hand.”

The loss is Brilz’s third in a row, and second consecutive knockout defeat. At UFC 129 in Toronto this past April, he was stopped by Vladimir Matyushenko.

Michael McDonald scored a vicious knockout victory over Alex Soto.

The 20-year-old prospect countered a leg-kick attempt with a nasty straight right to draw first blood. Soto hit the mat, but managed to tie MacDonald up and get back to his feet.

That didn’t last long.

In a moment reminiscent of David (Tank) Abbott’s brutal knockout of Steve Nelmark at UFC Ultimate Ultimate 1996. MacDonald pounced with more punches, leaving Soto a contorted mess on the mat against the cage.

“(The straight right) is one of my favourite moves,” MacDonald said. “I’m always looking for it -- especially when someone is coming at me aggressively.”

Though he got choked unconscious by Chris Weidman, Tom Lawlor proved to be UFC 139’s top showman. After dressing like Steven Seagal at the weigh-ins, he entered the arena to Olivia Newton-John’s “Let’s Get Physical” while wearing a pink headband and working the exercise band...Matt Brown’s attempt to give Seth Baczynski a taste of his own medicine backfired. After getting out-grappled during the first round, Brown shot for a takedown of his own in the second, but got caught in a guillotine choke...Don’t miss weight when fighting Danny Castillo. Shamar Bailey tipped the scales at 158 pounds and Castillo brutalized him with ground-and-pound, stating afterwards that he felt disrespected.


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