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UFC's Dan Henderson makes a stop in Burbank

Mixed martial arts: Former PRIDE, Strikeforce champ fields questions at Morton's ahead of UFC 161 showdown.

June 06, 2013|By Grant Gordon, grant.gordon@latimes.com

BURBANK — With a cinder block for a right hand, a laundry list of memorable victories, an easy grin and an honest, down-to-earth personality, Dan Henderson has built a lofty fan base in mixed martial arts and a legendary resume.

Next up for "Hendo" is a main event bout against former Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight titlist "Suga" Rashad Evans at UFC 161: Evans vs. Henderson on June 15 at Winnipeg, Manitoba.

As part of a West Coast media trip, Henderson stopped by Morton's The Steakhouse in Burbank on Thursday afternoon.

As has become accustomed for the 42-year-old Henderson in the lead-up to his latest fights, he fielded myriad questions about just how much longer his fighting days will last.

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"As I get older, the challenge gets tougher, but it also gets easier because I'm more experienced," said Henderson, who estimated that he would likely fight another two years or four or five more fights. "I'm still capable of beating people up and I get paid to do what I like."

In Evans, the UFC's sixth-ranked light heavyweight, No. 3 Henderson faces his 10th former UFC champion, having defeated a half-dozen former titlists. Likely his biggest career highlights have come with knockout upsets over heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko in 2011 and light heavyweight Wanderlei Silva in 2007. The defeat of Silva won Henderson the PRIDE middleweight championship, while he simultaneously held the organization's welterweight strap. To this day, he's the only fighter in MMA history to hold two major titles in different weight classes concurrently.

"I didn't think it was a big deal at the time," said Henderson of the historic accolade. "It's definitely something people still talk about."

However, it is Henderson's knockout win over Michael Bisping, seen by many fight fans as a brash, outspoken villain, that "Hendo" said is easily the win he still hears the most about from fans.

"As far as hearing about it every day [it's the biggest highlight]," Henderson said. "The usual [comment] is thanks for doing that."

Boasting a 29-9 record in MMA, Henderson is a two-time former Olympian in Greco-Roman wrestling. Despite his wrestling pedigree, Henderson has grabbed the majority of his highlights with knockouts, having won 13 fights in that manner, with four of his last five victories coming via KO. Facing another former wrestler with good power in Evans (17-3-1), Henderson wouldn't mind taking the fight to the ground, though.

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