Henderson focused on “Feijao,” not belt
The last time Dan Henderson wore a belt around his waist was also the last time the legendary mixed martial artist would enter the PRIDE ring.
On February 24, 2007, Dan Henderson brutally disposed of Wanderlei Silva by knockout to earn the PRIDE middleweight belt. Unfortunately for him, when he entered the UFC to unify his title against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson‘s, Henderson walked away without his championship. Making matters worse, when he dropped down to the 185 lb. mark to fight for that division’s top honor, he was sent away by Anderson Silva, leaving “Hendo” without a belt once again.
But another opportunity has arisen for the 40 year old, as he has earned a shot at the Strikeforce 205 lb. title in Columbus, Ohio, facing off against Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante at next month’s “Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson.”
“I’m just excited to be fighting in Columbus again and fighting a guy that I know that is going to make an exciting fight,” Henderson said on today’s Strikeforce media call. “There’s no doubt in my mind that the fans are going to enjoy this.”
“Feijao,” a Brazilian slugger, earned the belt in August of 2010, knocking out Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal in the third of five scheduled rounds. Lawal, predominantly known for his impressive wrestling pedigree, failed to defend his title due to his inability control and overpower Cavalcante.
However, Henderson’s gameplan, in all likelihood, could be to utilize his background in the art of wrestling to bring the fight to the floor. But his confidence comes from the fact that he and Lawal have very different styles.
Mo and I are two totally different styles of wrestling,” Henderson said. “I feel like Mo didn’t set up his takedowns all that great with his striking, and I typically go in there and try to do some damage on the guys. So they’re going to have to respect my hands, which will open up takedowns more if I want to take him down.”
But a fighter setting up his hands against a striker such as “Feijao” can be dangerous business. Throughout his 12-fight career, the Brazilian has earned nine knockout victories and a submission due to strikes.
Henderson is no stranger to the knockout, though, as he can boast 11 knockouts throughout his career, including the vicious stoppage against Michael Bisping at UFC 100.
Still, even with power in his own hands, Henderson remains respectful for the devastating paws of Cavalcante.
“He looks like he works real hard and he’s dangerous up there,” Henderson said. “He throws a little bit more of a looping style of punches; not overly straight, but still just as dangerous. So, you know, I need to be careful up there.”
Even though Henderson stated that he would need to be careful of his opponent’s striking game, he is almost certain that they will still each be hoping to earn the knockout. But whether he wins in that manner, submission, or by decision, he plans to knock Cavalcante “silly.”
“I don’t think it’s a secret that both of us are probably going to look for the knock out. Most of our finishes, when we finish a guy is by strikes. I definitely plan on trying to knock him silly and pressuring him the whole fight.”
Henderson’s road back to a major title has had a few bumps along the way, but on March 5 he once again will have the opportunity at elite status. That isn’t too bad of motivation, right?
Not in the case of Henderson, who says speculating about winning the belt is something he has not been doing. Sure, it’s nice to have the opportunity, but, in his case, it’s not his concern right now.
“(Winning the belt is) just icing on the cake once the jobs done, but you’re going to need to get the job done first. No reason worrying about that now.”