by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com
(pictured: Dan Henderson at left; Kazuo Misaki at right)
Dan Henderson (20-4) vs Kazuo Misaki (16-6-2)
Current Pride welterweight champion and defending Grand Prix champion Dan “Hollywood” Henderson received a bye into the second round of the Bushido tournament due to an injury.
Since losing a decision to Henderson back at Bushido 10, Kazuo Misaki has gone on to defeat Phil Baroni in the first round of the tournament. The Team Grabaka fighter stayed active against the heavy handed Baroni and even connected with some flying knees. Kazuo landed the cleaner shots as the fatigued Baroni was unable to effectively counter with his punches.
I’m not sure why Pride set up this rematch as Dan could be a much more intriguing match-up for one of the other remaining fighters. I have to admit that Kazuo did a much better than I thought he would against the champion and it’s possible that Henderson may have underestimated Misaki. Henderson failed to connect on quite a few punches but did enough on damage and aggression to earn what I considered a close decision victory. The Japanese fighter showed that he could take a punch and was able to control Dan the few times the fight went to the ground.
If Dan wants to win the second fight convincingly, he needs to work on his striking accuracy and be more aggressive on the ground. The rematch between these two will yield another solid yet competitive fight. However, my opinion is that the result will be the same and “Hollywood” will move on to the semi-finals.
Prediction: Dan Henderson wins by decision