by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
Dan Henderson is one of the most seasoned fighters in mixed
martial arts. The two-time Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling team member has
been wrestling since the age of five and has fought in the most prominent mixed
martial arts promotions in the world, obtaining both the Pride middleweight and
At UFC 82: Pride of a Champion, Henderson will get the
opportunity to add another belt to his collection when he takes on reigning UFC
middleweight titleholder Anderson Silva.
Here is a breakdown of what Henderson brings to
the Octagon against Silva.
Henderson may come from a wrestling background, but he likes
to let his hands go. He possesses knockout power as shown in his
fights with Wanderlei Silva, Akihiro Gono and Ryo Chonan in recent years.
His grappling ability allows him to plant on his
punches with no fear of being taken down. Henderson isn’t the most
technical of strikers, bringing more of a brawling style to the ring, but he
only needs one punch to finish a fight.
Henderson is a two-time Olympian in Greco-Roman
wrestling. What more really needs to be said? He has 31 years of
wrestling experience. There is nary a fighter in MMA that is going to be
able to out-wrestler him.
Henderson utilizes his strikes to close the distance and get
to the clinch position to drop for a single-leg takedown, execute a
trip or simply power his opponents to the mat.
From the top position Henderson unleashes an onslaught of
ground-and-pound. From the bottom, he is very difficult to keep on his
back and has excellent reversals.
Henderson’s submission game is more defensive than a
threat of catching someone in a submission. In fact, over his 11-year,
28-bout career, Henderson has never submitted an opponent and isn’t likely to
start with Anderson Silva, a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu black belt.
He is listed as having one submission victory in 1999 over
Bakouri Gogitidze in the Rings promotion, but it was due a well-placed
The two times Henderson has ever been finished in his career
have been via submission, but the Team Quest fighter hasn’t lost by submission
in nearly three years.
Henderson has the ability to control the pace of a
fight with effective clinch work and grappling. His wrestling
pedigree accompanied with his punching power makes for a difficult match-up for
If he doesn’t set the distance to land the big overhand
right for the knockout, clinching and controlling the pace of the fight is
Henderson’s forte. Like many fighters with a Greco-Roman base, he is good at
grinding down his opponent, wearing them out.
Henderson is coming off a five-round fight that went
the distance against UFC light heavyweight champion Quinton "Rampage"
Jackson. He’s been through the wars and half of his 22 wins are
For this fight, Henderson traveled to Big Bear to prepare in
isolation and at elevation. He has stepped up his
conditioning and is expected to be in excellent
shape. Conditioning shouldn’t be a factor in this fight.
THE "X" FACTOR:
Henderson changed training camp locations for this
fight and whether or not it pays off will be seen when the Octagon door closes
on Saturday night.
Both Henderson and Silva have been in big fights. Both
have been in main events and both have been in five-round bouts. Nerves
will not be a factor, but Silva has competed in a cage more often recently than
Henderson and the Brazilian could be more comfortable competing in that
This fight should be won or lost in the clinch.
Henderson’s Greco-Roman clinch eliminates space, something Anderson Silva’s
Muay Thai clinch needs to inflict the most damage. Which fighter is
able to impose their clinch style on the other will most likely be the one with
his hand raised.
If Henderson isn’t able to get to the clinch position
or secure takedowns, he could be in for a long night, or a
short one. If forced to stand and trade with Silva,
Henderson could be picked apart and become frustrated. Frustrated
and over committing with strikes against Anderson Silva is the absolute
worst-case scenario for anyone.
KEYS TO SUCCESS:
For Dan Henderson to defeat Anderson Silva, the Pride
Champion needs to eliminate space. Silva is most effective when he has
the space to display his craft. Without distance, Henderson could nullify
Even from the clinch position, Silva needs distance to throw
his trademark knees. Establishing the Greco-Roman clinch will reduce
Silva’s ability to deliver the devastating knees.
From the clinch, Henderson needs to get this fight to the
ground and work ground-and-pound, while avoiding submission attempts and
working to pass Silva’s guard. Side control is where Henderson will
have his best opportunity to finish Silva, unleashing an array of punches,
forearms and elbows.