I wanted to take a little time to address one last thing from my fight with Dan Henderson. Adversity. In my first run-in with Dan, he put me out. That knockout, as you all know, followed me for the last seven years. In that time, I’ve been hit with adversity in the form of losses to Cheator Belfort and Luke Rockhold.
I was fortunate enough to have some incredible timing when Chris Weidman had to pull out of his fight with Rockhold, giving me the chance at redemption with Luke. We all saw how that went. This gold around my waist is a testament to that. The one thing that should be made crystal clear, though, is that it wasn’t fortune or luck that won me the belt—it was skill and hard work.
On October 8th, I got another opportunity at redemption, and I saw that through to victory once again, defending my belt in the process, something that has become increasingly difficult for #UFC athletes to do over the last year-and-a-half or so.
I’m not interested in fighting Belfort…he’s got nothing for me at this point. Life has hit him with all the redemption I could ever hope for.
Before winning that belt, I was in an all-out war with Anderson Silva. Few thought that fight was going to go my way. Few thought I could get through his knees and kicks. There it is again. Adversity. I went to Hell in that fight and I made it back with the devil cheering me on.
People said I had a weak chin after UFC 100. They said I didn’t have knockout power. They didn’t think I could get in there and have a gritty battle, and still come out on top. I’ve been doing this my entire life—I know I can stand with the best and win.
I’ve only ever been knocked out cold against Dan Henderson. I’ve been TKO’d once by Vitor Belfort, but I was still in the fight. I’ve always known I’ve had a good chin, a good jaw, whatever you want to call it. Dan Henderson has knocked out Wanderlei, Fedor, Boetsch, Lombard…the list goes on and on. I was able to show that at 37 years old, I’ve still got what it takes to be the champion.
I took the best shots from the heaviest hands in the division, and I’m still standing. Obviously, I’d rather he hadn’t been able to drop me those two times in Manchester, but how many can take an H-bomb, let alone two, and get back up to win in dominant fashion?
Of course, it would have been nice to have just gone out there, knocked him out and gotten a quick victory, but I like that I was able to fight through tremendous adversity. I don’t go out there with the intention of putting myself in bad situations just to get my Rocky moments, but in hindsight, I liked my performance because it showed that I have tons of heart and determination.
It made for an exciting fight for both the fans in attendance and the ones around the world that were watching. It showed that all my hard work paid off. I’m glad that I was able to display the stones that I have as a fighter. That’s a feeling that’s hard to come by, and I’m proud of my victory that night.