Sunday, March 2, 2008

Anderson Silva Beats Dan Henderson

By Ryan Mink
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, March 2, 2008; Page D05

There may not be anyone left for Anderson Silva to fight.

After Silva beat everyone in the middleweight division, Ultimate Fighting Championship President Dana White had to recruit former PRIDE middleweight champion Dan Henderson from the light heavyweight class to fight Silva.

It seemed Henderson would be the one man who could challenge Silva considering Henderson has one of the best wrestling pedigrees in mixed martial arts.

But not even Henderson lasted long.

Once again, Silva's challenger didn't make it past the second round. This time Silva, the ever dangerous striker, showed off his jiu-jitsu, submitting Henderson with a rear naked choke with eight seconds left in the second round yesterday at UFC 82 in Columbus, Ohio.

Silva (21-4) has now successfully defended his UFC middleweight belt for the third time. He hasn't seen the third round since a Dec. 31, 2004, bout against Ryo Chonan, which was his last loss not counting a disqualification against Yushin Okami in 2006.

"Nice job, Anderson," Henderson told Silva after the decision was made. "You're the true champion."

Silva won the middleweight belt from Rich Franklin on Oct. 14, 2006, and defended it against Nate Marquardt and Franklin before being pitted against Henderson (22-7). He now had the unified Pride and UFC middleweight belt.

Henderson likely won the first round after picking up Silva and taking him down to the mat about two minutes into the bout. From there, Henderson, a two-time Olympic wrestler, controlled the rest of the round and landed numerous hammer fists to the side of Silva's head.

Silva started mounting his Muay Thai attack midway through the second round, landing a flurry of kicks and knees that made Henderson fall forward. The dazed Henderson was able to recover but Silva quickly mounted him and started landing blows to Henderson's head and body.

It was only a few seconds after Silva started choking Henderson when Henderson's eyes grew bloodshot and he was forced to tap before passing out.

"My hat's off to Anderson Silva," Henderson said in a television interview. "He was definitely the better fighter tonight. I controlled him and beat him up the first round. He came out and took control in the second."

Like Silva, heavyweight Heath Herring had to use his ground game to beat his opponent. At the start of the first round, Herring sprinted out of his corner and immediately knocked Cheick Kongo on his back. But what was expected to be a slugfest turned into a wrestling match that Herring won via a split decision.

"I thought he was going to stand up with me," the usually heavy-handed Herring said to his corner men as he awaited the judges' decision.

Herring (28-13-1) had lost four of his past seven bouts but rededicated himself after nearly beating Antonio Nogueira in his last bout. Kongo (21-4-1) was coming off an impressive win over one of the best stand-up fighters in the UFC, Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic.

In the other bouts, bloodied middleweight Chris Leban (18-4) outslugged Alessio Sakara (16-7-1), winning by technical knockout 3 minutes 16 seconds into the first round. Leban caught Sakara with two big left-hand punches.

Grappling middleweight Yushin Okami (23-4) landed a knee to former middleweight champion Evan Tanner (34-7) with two minutes left in the second round and won via technical knockout.

Welterweight Jon Fitch (21-2-1) extended his UFC winning streak to eight with a unanimous decision victory over Chris Wilson (12-4-1), possibly putting him in contention for a title fight against the winner of Georges St. Pierre and Matt Serra in UFC 83.



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