Current Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Dan Henderson (27-8) heads into one of the biggest fights of his career when he meets former Pride heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko (31-3) at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson.
The former Olympian has spent much of his career between fighting at middleweight and light heavyweight, and has won the Pride welterweight (185-pound limit) and the Pride middleweight (205-pound limit) titles.
After losing to Jake Shields, there were some doubts if Henderson still had the ability to compete at a world-class level. However, Henderson proved all the pundits wrong and showed that at 40 years old he still has some fight left when he knocked out Rafael Feijao to capture the Strikeforce light heavyweight title.
Once widely known as the world’s best heavyweight, Fedor not only won, but also devastated his opponents for a decade. Even though the Russian is currently on a two-fight skid, Henderson relishes the chance to face a fellow legend.
“I don’t think Fedor is just another name,” Henderson said on Thursday.
“It definitely excites me for the opportunity to fight him and I’m ready to go and waiting to get in there at this point.”
After watching the Russian’s last two defeats, Henderson still feels that Fedor is dangerous, just that he has been out of shape. In fact, Henderson feels that since the former Pride heavyweight champion’s back is against the wall, he’ll be an even more dangerous competitor.
“I watched both of these fights, and I felt it seemed like against Werdum he got cocky with his submission defense, thinking he wouldn’t get submitted and everybody can get caught. With Silva, I think he was a little bit out of shape and the size definitely got to him.
“I think anybody that has their back to the wall coming off two losses like that is definitely more dangerous. But I think Fedor is going to try and hit me with the same punches he would have tried to hit me with if he had won his last two fights.”
Originally, many sites rumored that Henderson would meet Fedor at a catch weight, but Henderson is always up for the task of fighting larger opponents. For years, size hasn’t mattered to the former Olympian, as he has fought former Pride and UFC heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira twice, and competed many years as a small light heavyweight, and also at middleweight.
“I don’t believe that was a decision at all. It’s tough for me to gain weight. I did weightlifting and plenty of eating; I don’t know what else I’m supposed to do. I’m not going to feel outmatched or small in there.”