UFC Fight Night 38 originated from Brazil where the main event was the UFC 139 rematch between Shogun Rua and Dan Henderson that was scheduled for 5 rounds. These two gladiators left everything they had on the mat back at UFC 139 where Dan Henderson won the match by a unanimous decision and they both went into this fight knowing that their opponent could take a lot of damage. Not only did they have to prepare to fight someone who had the ability to go the distance during their last encounter, but they also needed to be prepared for the heat and humidity that they would be fighting in.
Round One. I was not surprised by the pace of the match as these two had gone the distance at UFC 139, so I was expecting a longer "feeling out" process. Henderson was a lot slower and more deliberate with his striking and during the final 60-seconds of the first round you were able to witness how these athletes are able to switch gears as Dan Henderson rocked Shogun with a left only to be dropped by a left from Shogun. While Shogun had Henderson on the mat and what appeared to be pinned to the cage, it looked as if Referee Herb Dean was about to stop the match but I think that due the controversy that followed his early stoppage between Renan Barao and Urijah Faber in the main event at UFC 169 in February, might have played a factor in him giving Henderson more time to regroup. Dan did manage to stand up and was able to hold on to the fence before eventually being taken down to the mat where he quickly broke Shogun's posture to avoid any more damage as well as to give himself some time to clear his head.
During the second round I felt that both fighters might have actually taken more damage that what the viewers at home were able to see as Henderson went the entire fight to this point without checking any of Shogun's kicks which impacted his ability to shoot his takedowns, which when Dan went for the first takedown of the round, it looked like he was going to tumble through the cage. Henderson found himself on the receiving end of a huge uppercut from Shogun that sent him to mat. Again, the ability of these athletes who have trained to be in great positions as well as really poor situations had paid off as Henderson was able to close his guard on Shogun to limit his attacks.
At this point I was expecting the fight to go the distance. With their history, I thought the third round would have been played a little safer by both fighters. Henderson seemed to be sticking with his game plan of being patient and simply waiting for Shogun to make a mistake that would leave him open to the power Henderson possesses in his hands. Shogun threw a combo that Henderson followed up with a double leg attempt and when it looked like he wasn't going to succeed with it and was looking to keep the fight standing; he dropped Shogun with a huge right hand as they were breaking the clinch.
Henderson could be heard telling referee Herb Dean that he knocked out Shogun, which helped prevent any needless damage as Herb Dean stopped the fight once he saw that Shogun was not able to defend himself.
Personally, I think this is the direction that the UFC should be moving towards: more free fight cards and fewer Pay-Per-View cards, but until the fans stop spending their cash, Dana White isn't going to reinvent the UFC.