Since Dan Henderson parted ways with the UFC in 2009, he has conquered Strikeforce’s light heavyweight division and claimed that organization’s 205-pound belt, as well as putting one more nail in the coffin of the legendary Fedor Emelianenko’s career. Not bad for a man who is now in his forties.

Henderson now returns at UFC 139 in San Jose, Calif., looking to add to his list of career accomplishments. In his return on Saturday, he faces Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, a fighter who, just like “Hendo,” called the Japanese Pride organization home for many years. Rua is also a recent champion, and a battle between the two will surely have title implications.

The bout headlines a card that features an interesting middleweight clash between Wanderlei Silva and Cung Le, who will be making his Octagon debut. And there’s also another bout with title implications, as two former WEC champions, Urijah Faber and Brian Bowles, square off in bantamweight action. It all goes down at the HP Pavilion and airs live on pay-per-view at 9 p.m. ET.

The MMA Corner’s panel of Chase Buzzell, Josh Davis and Duncan Price look at all five main card contests in this edition of the Round Table.

LHW: Stephan Bonnar (13-7) vs. Kyle Kingsbury (11-2)

Buzzell: It has been many years since Bonnar won the hearts of many UFC fans by going toe-to-toe with eventual TUF champion Forrest Griffin. SInce, Bonnar has not done a whole lot to impress or advance his career. It appears the UFC continues to schedule Bonnar as a gesture of loyalty because at this point in his career he does not offer much in the light heavyweight division and will never challenge for a title. Bonnar does have his heart going for him, meaning he is really hard to finish.

Kyle Kingsbury (Al Fuentes/Mental Champ Coaching)

Kingsbury receives immediate credibility as he trains with headliner Cain Velasquez. Also, in Kingsbury’s last fight he overcame a fractured orbital bone and vicious body attack…there is no quit in this guy. He is well-rounded, has good hands, good takedowns and good defense. In Kingsbury’s previous fights, he has not stood out in any one aspect. However, Velasquez has gone on the record stating that Kingsbury has worked with Paul Buentello and discovered ‘new found hands.’

Kingsbury has the overall advantage and is the more skilled fighter. There will be a contingency of loyal Bonnar fans, but fan support will not overcome Kingsbury’s skill and physical advantages. Bonnar is too tough to finish, but Kingsbury will win it on the cards.

Davis: Kingsbury is one of the top up-and-coming fighters in the light heavyweight division and he is currently riding a four-fight win streak. He has shown that in addition to being an all-around good fighter he also has a ton of heart.

Bonnar also has a ton of heart and is known for his willingness to stand in the pocket and trade punches with anybody in the division. Bonnar will also have a significant advantage in experience when these two fight and he will look to use some of his cage knowledge to help dictate the pace of the bout.

I have to disagree with Chase in this fight, as I believe that Bonnar’s style will cause problems for Kingsbury. Bonnar wins this fight by unanimous decision.

Price: This is a real tough call because we are talking about a legendary veteran and a guy who is up-and-coming in the light heavyweight division.

Kingsbury has really come on from his days on TUF and hasn’t actually lost since 2008. However, if you evaluate his opponents during that time, most people would agree that he’s not had a particularly serious test as of yet. He does possess solid wrestling ability and powerful, if a little wild, punching power. My issue is that Kingsbury goes to too many decisions for a guy who is supposedly aiming to be a contender sooner rather than later.

The reference I’m using for Bonnar is his rematch with Krzysztof Soszynski. The first match-up ended rather contentiously, but when they fought the second time Bonnar scored the win via TKO. My point being, if Bonnar can still beat a guy at the level of Soszynski then in theory he should be able to beat Kingsbury.

Weighing up the thoughts of my colleagues and my personal observations on each competitor’s style and record, I see Bonnar taking this one by TKO in the third round after a back and forth battle.

WW: Martin Kampmann (17-5) vs. Rick Story (13-4)

Davis: On paper, this fight comes off as your typical striker versus wrestler match-up and though that may appear to be true, this fight is so much more. It is a battle between two people on the cusp of moving into title contention. After Story lost his UFC debut to John Hathaway, he rolled off six straight victories before losing to Charlie Brenneman. Had Story defeated Brenneman, he would have been in title contention and with a win over Kampmann he can get back in the title mix. Kampmann, on the other hand, has been a staple in the UFC for years and knows that if he is going to climb the ladder to a title shot, it all starts with a victory over Story.

Martin Kampmann (Tracy Lee/Combat Lifestyle)

Story is the superior wrestler in this fight and he will need to use his wrestling skills if he wants to get the victory. Story has solid striking and excellent power, but he does not have the overall striking abilities of Kampmann. Story will need to use his stand-up to set up his takedowns, but he does not want to get caught in the pocket going toe-to-toe with Kampmann. If Story can get this fight to the ground, he will have a significant advantage.

Kampmann is a world-class kickboxer and will have a significant striking advantage. He will also enjoy a significant reach advantage, which he will use to stay on the outside and use his striking to keep Story from getting a takedown. He does have a decent ground game, but he does not want to get into a wrestling match with Story.

This is going to be a war, but in the end it will be Kampmann that walks away with the victory. Kampmann wins by unanimous decision.

Price: The outcome of this fight, in my opinion, rests on which Rick Story enters the ring on Saturday night.

We all know what Kampmann can do, he is technically gifted on the feet without being overtly powerful and he can hold his own on the ground. Kampmann always seems to be one step away from becoming a legitimate title contender, but he certainly has the potential to make that leap in the future should he win more consistently.

When it comes to Story, there are almost more questions than answers. Even though he had his opponent switched on him immediately prior to his last fight, Story really should have beaten Brenneman at UFC Live 4. Was that a blip or was that Story showing that he is too inexperienced and one-dimensional to challenge the welterweight elite? There is no doubting Story’s ability though, as he seems to be able to utilise his wrestling to nullify the attacks of his rival and grind them down with offense of his own.

I’m actually backing Story to return to the form he showed in defeating Thiago Alves and Johny Hendricks, as he controls Kampmann en route to a unanimous decision victory.

Rick Story (Brave Legion MMA)

Buzzell: Story’s loss to Brenneman was inexcusable. However, redemption could come in the form of a victory over Kampmann. Although “The Horror” does not have the striking ability of Kampann, he does strike aggressively, which at time makes up for his shortcomings in the stand-up game. Also, Story’s athleticism is underrated, as he was a four-sport athlete in high school and had a successful collegiate wrestling career. Essentially, “The Horror” does not have the best striking in the weight class, but he can get the job done in order to get the fight to go where he is most comfortable, the mat.

Kampmann is an elite striker, thus the nickname “The Hitman” is very fitting. He trains with some elite fighters, which is probably noticeable in his defensive game where he has shown that he can defend submission attempts very well. I believe that Kampmann at times leaves himself open to counterstrikes, which may put him in harm’s way when facing Story. If Kampmann is confident on his feet, knowing that he can out-class Story, it is possible that Story could surprise Kampmann and MMA fans at large with a devastating strike. Moreover, Kampmann has not shown that he has the wrestling ability to hang with the top wrestlers in the division, in some part he has not had to.

I believe this fight hinges on whether Story can take the fight to the mat or if “The Hitman” can keep it standing. In the end, I feel that Story’s relentless pace will at some point get Kampmann on the mat and from there, I think Story can grind out a victory. Story, split decision.

BW: Urijah Faber (25-5) vs. Brian Bowles (10-1)

Buzzell: This match features two former world champions seeking to regain championship status, which is possible because the winner of this fight will more than likely get a match against bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz, who is currently nursing a broken hand. Moreover, there is plenty incentive for both fighters, considering a match against Cruz would also entail a chance to avenge respective losses by each fighter.

Faber, once considered unbeatable during his WEC days, is looking to regain his status as the best bantamweight in the world. In doing so, the viewer can expect much of the same seen throughout the “California Kid’s” career: A fast pace to the fight, lighting quick hands, explosive takedowns and ground control. Faber has been successful throughout his career employing these techniques and there is no reason to ditch the date that has brought Faber to the dance.

Bowles also relies on similar attributes as Faber. He works fast, can take his opponent down and compliments his overall game with solid submission skills. The main difference that I see between Bowles and Faber is that Bowles has significant power in his hands, especially for a bantamweight.

Each fighter has been in the ring with similar competition, the difference being Faber has more experience in the cage than Bowles. However, this should not slight Bowles in his attempt to continue his rise to the top of the division. It is not as if Bowles has merely won fights, he has been impressive in every one of his outings, even his loss to Cruz.

Although Bowles likes to stand and strike, he has also shown a proficient jiu-jitsu game and given that Faber is lighting quick on his feet and often neutralized if he is put on his back, I believe Bowles will take the fight to the ground. Once on the ground, Bowles should be able to control Faber and possibly slap a submission on “The California Kid.” Bowles, submission, third round.

Price: Once again, Joe Silva has done his job to perfection and made a fight between two guys who have been destined to meet since Faber dropped to bantamweight in the latter days of the WEC. The fact that they are pretty evenly matched only adds fuel to the fire.

Whilst I agree with Chase touting the grappling skills of Bowles, I have to say that it’s going to be tough to tap Faber, who hasn’t lost by submission throughout his entire career. Let’s not forget that Faber himself has won his fair share of fights by submission too, defeating the likes of Raphael Assuncao and Jeff Curran (both BJJ black-belts) with his powerful chokes. Bowles is perhaps the better striker, but again Faber has never been knocked out cold and he took Jose Aldo five rounds so I don’t believe he’ll be overly concerned with his opponent’s power. It almost seems as though every advantage one man appears to have, the other negates with their own ability in that area of the game.

With this bout taking place over just three rounds, for me a judges’ decision is almost a formality. I believe both men are too tough to finish over such a short period of time, especially as they share so many of the same attributes. It will be close, with some rounds possibly going either way, but Faber takes it by split decision.

Davis: These are two of the best fighters in the division trying to work their way back to title contention. Both fighters have elite-level wrestling, solid striking and submissions and match-up very well against each other.

Faber at one point single-handedly carried the WEC, helping to put the promotion on the map. He was a dominant force and a dominant champion, but like with so many greats, at times it seems like the sport is passing him by. Faber has been a part of some of the best fights in WEC history, but he has not been the same fighter over recent years. He has seemed slower, uses his wrestling less and has been completely content relying on his unorthodox striking to get victories. In addition, he no longer instills fear in his opponents like he used to.

Bowles is very similar to Faber in fighting styles, however Bowles has a little better stand-up and is a little better when it comes to submissions. If Bowles is going to win this fight, he is going to need to frustrate Faber on the feet to set up his takedowns. Once he gets Faber to his back, he will need to use his wrestling and his submission skills to keep Faber on the defensive. If he can do this, he can get the victory.

Faber knows that this is his last chance at returning to title contention. A loss here would be detrimental to his career. Look for Faber to get back to his wrestling roots, push the pace of this fight and dictate where it takes place. It will be hard-fought, but I agree with Duncan, Faber wins this fight by split decision.

MW: Wanderlei Silva (33-11-1) vs. Cung Le (7-1)

Price: This will be Cung Le’s debut in the UFC, but he is well-known to existing fans of Strikeforce. Even though he has been a presence in the martial arts community for some years now, this will only be his ninth MMA fight. Le is by no means inexperienced when it comes to competition though, as he has competed in kickboxing and san shou since 1994. At the age of 39, Le is probably not looking for a title shot, just some interesting bouts or super fights, if you will. His last appearance in the cage came almost 18 months ago in a rematch with the scrappy striker Scott Smith, who had knocked him out in their first encounter. Although he won the second time around, it is hard to say whether any of that momentum will have remained with him after such a long period of inactivity.

There is little doubt that Le would love to stand and strike with Silva, as I believe he is the more technically gifted of the two. The game plan will likely be to stay out of range of his opponent’s powerful punches whilst scoring from the outside with kicks.

It’s difficult to evaluate the ability of Silva at this stage of his career. The once almost invincible Muay thai practitioner has had a bit of a fall from grace over the past few years. There is absolutely no doubt that Silva can still beat anybody on his best day, the trouble is anyone else on their best day can now beat him, and that wasn’t always the case. It’s difficult to say that the UFC may be close to ‘axing’ Silva, because he’s almost too revered to cut, but with a 2-4 record in the promotion, they may well pull a Chuck Liddell and force him into retirement should he prove unsuccessful against Le.

Including a loss via head kick to Mirko Cro Cop in 2006, Silva has been knocked out an alarming four times in eight contests, a worrying stat for a man that had never truly been knocked completely out prior. There has to be one goal for Silva in this potential war, kill or be killed. He’s not going to take it to the ground and he’s not going to come out jabbing, looking for a decision. Silva is going to try and take Le’s head off, and the quicker the better.

My difficulty with this match-up is that both men are coming towards the end of their lives in the sport. If one were much younger or more athletic then I’d give them the edge, but all in all it’s pretty even. My head says Le, being as he is the more patient and skilled combatant, but something somewhere won’t let me pick him. By virtue of the fact he has a lot more experience, and Le was KO’d by the relatively average Smith, Silva takes it by second-round knockout.

Davis: On paper this is a very intriguing match-up. On one side, you have the aggressive Muay thai striking style of Silva and on the other you have the unorthodox karate style of Le. Le in many ways is similar to Lyoto Machida in the fact that his style poses problems for all the opponents that he has faced.

Silva is on the tail end of his storybook career, but he still wants to prove to the UFC, the fans and most importantly to himself that he still has it. Silva dominated the division for so many years in Pride and he wants to get back to that level. That will be a tough task, as Silva is nowhere near the fighter he once was. However, he is still a very aggressive fighter that can knock you out with his hands, knees and feet and if he connects with Le it could be a short fight.

Le is a counterstriker and will look to take advantage of Silva’s aggressive style. Le will sit on the outside and look to pick Silva apart with shots as he comes in wildly. The key to victory for Le is to stay on the outside, stay active and do not let Silva cut off the cage.

Both fighters have ways that they can win this fight, but on the big stage as the co-main event for the UFC, Silva will prove to be too much for Le. Silva wins this fight by knockout in the second round.

Buzzell: If this fight were scheduled say four to five years ago, I would have felt bad for Le knowing what he had coming his way. Today, it is a different story. Silva has been a warrior in the age and has meant so much to the community of MMA, but at this stage in his career it is he with whom I feel bad for. Josh said it best, for Silva it is either kill or be killed.Thus, it is hard to watch this once dominant fighter walk into the ring knowing there is a chance he will be knocked out cold, which never use to happen. On the other hand, if Silva is able to impose his will on his opponent then Le will be in trouble, as Silva still possess dynamite hands.

Le is a match-up nightmare because of his unorthodox style that is incredibly effective. The loss to Smith is troubling, but can be attributed to the learning curve of MMA. Le is the older of the two fighters, but there is a difference between biological age and ring age. I believe because Le has spent so much time in the less taxing sport of kickboxing, and because he has had so many layoffs between his fights, that he looks more spry in his fights.

As “The Axe Murderer” has aged, he has had trouble hunting down his opponent and with the fact that Le is elusive, gets in and out of the striking zone, and overall is hard to hit, Silva may have trouble landing the strikes needed to put Le away. Le, on the other hand, should be able to strike at will, as Silva will stand in front of him looking to take his head off. If Le can remain composed, as he usually does, he should be able to avoid the attacks of “The Axe Murderer.”

After all of that being said, I still can not bring myself to pick Le. My allegiance to Silva runs deep and I think he can find a way to put Le away and keep the hope afloat that he has some career left in him. Silva, KO, second round.

LHW: Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (20-5) vs. Dan Henderson (28-8)

Davis: This is a fight between two legends of the sport. Though they are at different points in their careers, they are both fighting for the same thing and that is a shot at UFC gold. Henderson is a former champion in two weight classes and was the defending Strikeforce light heavyweight champion before returning to the UFC. Rua also is a former champion and appeared to be healthy again in his most recent performance, a dominant win over Forrest Griffin at UFC 134.

Dan Henderson (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

Henderson obviously has world-class Greco-Roman wrestling skills and he will need to use them in this fight. Henderson has solid striking and knockout power in both hands, but he will be giving up a significant reach advantage, so he will need to close the distance and work from the clinch to wear down Rua and eventually catch him with a right hand or take this fight to the ground. Once the fight is on the ground, Henderson will need to be careful of Rua’s world class jiu-jitsu skills and use his ground-and-pound to control the fight. If he can do this, he can come away with a victory.

Rua is looking to get another shot at Jon Jones and win back the light heavyweight title and the only way to do that is by defeating Henderson. Rua has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, but when he is healthy he is one of the best fighters in the division. When Rua fought Jones, he was coming off a third knee surgery and had not fought in over a year and his performance showed it. He was slow, flat-footed and hesitant and he paid the price for it.

Rua was the complete opposite of that in his last fight against Griffin. He was aggressive, quick and showed good head movement in his striking before finishing the fight by TKO. If Rua is going to defeat Henderson, he needs to do the same thing. He needs to be aggressive and take the fight to Henderson. He needs to use his reach advantage to set up his strikes and wear Henderson out. Push the pace and test Henderson’s cardio. If he can do this, he has a good chance of winning this fight.

Henderson is 6-1 in his last seven fights and is on a three-fight winning streak and really has never looked better. With that being said, his streak will come to an end. Rua wins this fight by TKO in the third round.

Buzzell: I was pleasantly surprised when the real “Shogun” showed up against Forrest at UFC 134. Rua’s seemingly perpetual injuries have created an asterisk next to his career stats that would read “what could have been.” But now that Rua appears to have recovered from his latest string of injuries, the light heavyweight division should take notice. “Shogun” is extremely aggressive and likes to move forward, while displaying good head movement to avoid counterstrikes. Also, like most Brazilians, he is a legitimate BJJ black belt and can more than hold his own on the mat.

Henderson is a MMA legend that has had a late career resurrection. He possesses knockout power in both hands and is a world-class wrestler, excelling at takedowns and takedown defense. If, however, “Shogun” takes the fight to the mat, Henderson has, at times, struggled with grapplers. Another weakness that “Hendo” has shown is that occasionally he gets hung-up on wanting to land the one-punch hail-mary KO. This tendency will not serve him well with “Shogun,” as Rua punches in bunches and has great head movement, constantly bobbing and weaving; in short, it is hard to hit a moving target.

“Hendo” is nearly impossible to finish, thus Rua’s constant attack has to be extremely overwhelming if he plans to put an end to the fight early. Critics have stated that Rua has gassed early in his recent fights, but I believe this can easily be explained away by his injury battles and should not be a factor in this fight. I do not believe that “Hendo” can finish Rua because Rua will prove to be too elusive. I also do not believe that “Shogun” can finish Henderson because “Hendo” is such a competitor and intelligent fighter that has not sustained a lot of damage over his illustrious career, which illustrates his ability to avoid punishment. In the end, I believe “Shogun” will be able to land more strikes than “Hendo,” which will point Rua’s way to a favorable decision. “Shogun,” split decision.

Price: You can never truly count a guy like Henderson out. After all, he’s a veteran and a legitimate legend of the sport. However, at a certain point in your career, you take part in a bout that demonstrates that you cannot compete at the elite level anymore. For me, this fight will mark that time for Henderson. He still possesses the bullish wrestling ability and one-punch knockout power that originally made him a star, but I don’t see that as being enough to defeat Rua.

By no means do I see this as a walkover for Rua, as he has shown elements of inconsistency in the past and been plagued by various injuries. I do believe that if he hadn’t run into the freight train that is Jon Jones, he would still be the champion now. If Rua comes ready and in shape, I really don’t see where Henderson wins this fight. Rua has a better overall striking game and he is a better grappler on the ground in terms of BJJ skill and control.

Unfortunately, I just think Henderson is too old to mount a serious title challenge. He meets a man 12 years his junior on Saturday night and I expect that to show. Rua will outlast the initial burst of energy from his opponent, take the fight into the third and hand Henderson his first-ever loss by TKO.

Top Photo: Dan Henderson (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)