by Jeff Cain
It’s been just over two years, 25 months, since Dan ‘Hollywood’ Henderson defeated Murilo Bustamante at Pride ‘Final Conflict 2003,’ but that bout took place at middleweight (205lbs). New Year’s Eve, the two will rematch for the Pride Welterweight (183lb.) Championship. Henderson spoke with MMAWeekly Radio about their first fight, the rematch, and his expectations this time around in a lower weight class with a belt on the line.
The last time these two met, Dan Henderson ended the fight in less than a minute, and from that moment on Murilo Bustamante has been asking for a rematch. Their first meeting ending in controversy according to Murilo, who claims their was an accidental clash of heads that caused the damage to him forcing the referee to stop the action. Henderson maintains it was the knee that followed.
Questioned if Bustamante’s excuses and comments following their first match bothered him, Henderson answered, “It doesn’t bother me one bit. It just shows how he is. I wouldn’t be whining like that.”
There’s no question an accidental headbutt occurred. Henderson doesn’t deny it. Addressing what actually happened the last time they fought, Dan said, “We did bump heads, yeah. I think he was shooting in and ran into my head…We do it all the time in wrestling too. You know? Two guys take a shot, they bump heads, they keep wrestling right away. It’s not like they stop and whine about it awhile. You get dumped on your back in wrestling doing that, nobody whines about it. It’s just something that happens. It’s part of the sport. Nobody did it on purpose. But yeah, he did shoot a double leg and bumped my head and kept trying to take me down…The knee definitely helped. I don’t know how bad he was, but the knee definitely I think sent him into la la land.”
That’s enough about their last fight. This weekend it will all be settled in the Pride ring. “I hope he doesn’t headbutt me this time and then run into my knee. Actually, I hope he does,” Dan Henderson told MMAWeekly Radio.
Some fighters train the same regardless of who they’re facing, but Henderson has catered his training specifically for Bustamante. He stated, “I’m doing it a little bit different, just being more specific to Bustamante and his style. Doing a little bit more on the ground, working more on the ground, but I’m still focusing a lot on my stand up, kickboxing, and clinch work.”
Discussing what Murilo brings to the table and what he needs to do, Henderson commented, “He’s proven to have some pretty good submissions. I’ve got to be aware of those. He’s got some good long straight punches. I need to keep some pressure on him and beat him up a little bit.”
He added, “I’m expecting it to go the distance. I was hoping to kick his ass the whole time. I’m expecting it to go the distance, if it’s shorter, that’s even better…I’m training just like the fight is going to go the distance. I could see it going about as quick as last time as well, but I’m not going to only train for a minute fight. It’s definitely a good possibility that I could stop him pretty early, but there’s the possibility that he’ll go the distance as well.”
The last time Murilo Bustamante competed for a division title, he became the UFC Middleweight Champion. Dan Henderson would certainly like to add a Pride belt to his trophy case. Holding a win over Bustamante and being voted the top dog at that weight by the MMAWeekly fighters and broadcasters poll, Henderson has to be the odds on favorite going in. We’ll find out on New Year’s Eve who’ll be crowned the Pride Welterweight Grand Prix Champion as well as the Pride Welterweight Champion of the World.