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Monday, September 19, 2011
Sources: Dan Henderson returns to UFC

By Michael Huang
ESPN The Magazine

Dan Henderson will return to the UFC from a near two-year absence to meet Mauricio Rua on Nov. 19, according to sources.

Henderson (28-8) is set to sign a four-fight contract with the UFC. His first scheduled fight in San Jose, Calif., will co-headline the main card that also features Cung Le's UFC debut against Vitor Belfort.

Both Henderson and Rua (20-5) made their names while competing in Pride throughout the last decade. However, it will be the first time the two fighters face off. "It's exciting to be back in there for sure," Henderson said in a phone interview Saturday. "They definitely have the best PR and promotion and have grown the sport more than any organization. The negotiations went pretty well. So, yeah, I'm pretty excited to be back in there."

Henderson, 41, left the UFC at the end of 2009 after signing a four-fight contract with Strikeforce on Dec. 9, 2009.

Despite nearly knocking out Jake Shields in the first round of his Strikeforce debut, Henderson lost via unanimous decision.

Subsequently, Henderson reeled off a three-fight win streak, capturing the light heavyweight belt by defeating Feijao Cavalcante via TKO on March 5, 2011. He also knocked out Renato "Babalu" Sobral during his streak.

"This will be a good fight for all of the old Pride fans," Henderson said of facing Rua. Henderson did say he wanted to fight UFC middleweight champ Anderson Silva, but Silva declined, citing an injured shoulder.

Most recently, Henderson defeated legendary heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko by TKO on July 30. Henderson was a moderate underdog going into the fight, but he told ESPN The Magazine he was not fazed.

"Just because he has some kind of mystique about him doesn't mean he's going to beat my ass," Henderson said.

Henderson was a member of the U.S. Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling team during the 1992 and 1996 Olympics. He is also the only fighter to have held the Pride middleweight and welterweight belts simultaneously.

Michael Huang covers MMA for ESPN The Magazine.