Dan Henderson says he would be open to fighting Chael Sonnen if the need arose, despite them being friends and team mates under the Team Quest banner.
Sonnen has moved up to light-heavyweight after failing to capture the middleweight title in two attempts and he faces light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones in April following a run as rival coaches on the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter.
Should Sonnen win the belt - which bookmakers don’t expect - then he finds himself on a potential collision course with Henderson, who was supposed to fight Jones at UFC 151 but then had to pull out on short notice with a knee injury.
Henderson’s late notifying of the injury to Zuffa coincided with a sudden barrage of abuse aimed at Jones by Sonnen. Despite protestations to the contrary, many believe that Henderson and Sonnen colluded in trying to get Sonnen in as a replacement at UFC 151.
Jones turned that down and forced the UFC to cancel an event for the first time ever. But then tempers cooled and it was decided that Jones and Sonnen would coach a TUF season opposite each other, a decision likely influenced by the woeful ratings TUF has received in its recent FOX runs.
Henderson, now long since healed from his injury, said at the time that the decision to award Sonnen an April title shot, given that he is coming off a loss to Anderson Silva, is one that “degrades the sport”. But he made clear he didn’t have anything against Sonnen personally for leapfrogging him.
And if Sonnen should beat Jones in April and break bookmaker’s hearts?
“We're friends, but above all we fight now in the same category and therefore have the same goal. We both compete for the same belt,” Henderson tells Tatame.
“Our friendship is more than a title and we are professional enough to let the rivalry be just inside the Octagon. It would be a different situation, but our profession in this type of situation is quite possible to happen.”