The type of approach one takes is key in the fight game. Without a definitive gameplan, a fighter’s night can go South very quickly with his competition getting their hand raised in victory.
Being strategic is of the utmost importance, especially when the fight is against a guy the caliber of Dan Henderson, who Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante happens to face this Saturday, March 5 at Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson. The fight will be Cavalcante’s first defense of his newly acquired light heavyweight title.
The all important gameplan never stays the same. With each fight, the plan shifts in such a way as to take advantage of the opposition’s weaknesses. The fact that this is a title defense has little to do with the preparation, according to Cavalcante – other than the fact that this could be a 25-minute fight, of course.
“Against every fighter there’s a little bit of a strategy,” “Feijao” said recently. “It doesn’t really matter if I’m fighting for a title or I’m defending a title. It’s really about the fighter and every fighter has different strategies they are going to throw at you.”
Against Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal, Cavalcante exercised a perfect strategy, out-striking his opponent on the feet and handing the wrestler his first loss of his pro career. “Fejao,” a seasoned striker, made sure he traded shots with Lawal until something gave. And what gave was Lawal’s ability to withstand his opponent’s standing onslaught.
Against Henderson, “Feijao” should not anticipate an easy go-around. Henderson has years of experience in comparison to Lawal and he might not be as susceptible to opening up his defenses.
“Of course, my strategy will differ for this fight as opposed to when I fought King Mo,” he said.
What better way to prepare for a guy like Henderson than enlisting the help of training partners who know what it takes to beat him? Well, training with the likes of Anderson Silva and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira will certainly give him a better chance of getting to the winner’s circle. Silva fought Henderson at UFC 82 where he defeated the former two-division Pride champion via rear naked choke in the second round. Nogueira also submitted Henderson, only his win was by armbar at Pride Total Elimination 2005.
Cavalcante made it clear that he picks up tips from his training partners in preparation for Henderson.
“We train together every day,” he said. “I have asked them about their fights against Dan and asked them what they think I need to do. They have told me what they think will work and we have been working on those things.”
What those things were exactly would not be detailed by the Strikeforce light heavyweight champion. But with his training partners nabbing submission wins over Henderson in the past, is it at all possible fight fans can see “Feijao” work some ground game in an effort to tap his opponent out at Strikeforce on March 5? Tune in this Saturday to see if he does.