Dan Henderson earned his third professional MMA title and knocked out the champion, Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante, in the third round in the main event at Strikeforce: “Feijao” vs. Henderson.
Henderson landed his classic right hand, sending “Feijao” crashing to the ground en route to a knockout victory in front of 7,123 fans in Columbus, Ohio.
The fighters began very calm until “Feijao” threw a heavy right leg kick. Henderson landed a right hand, but the champion threw a right hand of his own that rocked Henderson, sending him falling back. Cavalcante tried to finish, but Henderson composed himself and got up to take down his opponent. From guard, Henderson tried to work and improve his position, but the champion wouldn’t let him pass. The referee stood them up and Henderson moved forward throwing punches, ending up in the clinch against the cage. Another separation towards the end of the round was the last bit of action until the opening five minutes came to an end.
Round two had Henderson employing leg kicks. The challenger pressured Cavalcante and secured another clinch against the cage. There was very little action in the clinch until Henderson brought his opponent down to the canvas and landed in half guard. “Feijao” was able to grab the single leg and reverse the position, ending up in Henderson’s guard. The referee broke the fighters up after there was little offense and stood them up at center cage. Henderson used a Superman punch to get the clinch and tripped up the champion to get into half guard. Round two ended with Henderson in top position.
Round three had Henderson pressing some more action and ended up landing an enormous right hand that rocked the champion, sending him to the ground face first. The champion covered up and Henderson landed several more shots on the ground until the referee stepped in and put a stop to the fight.
Henderson’s victory over Cavalcante came at :50 of the third round.
After being announced as the victor and new champion, Dan Henderson stood at center cage and talked about the win.
“Leading up to this fight, everyone was talking about the belt and I didn’t really give it much thought until now,” he said. “It’s definitely going to be an honor to have that Strikeforce belt, but my main focus was to win that fight and I couldn’t have done it without the team of guys behind me.”
Henderson also credited his win to being patient. Although he wanted to finish the champion early, he remained clam and waited for the right moment to strike.
“I kind of wanted to be real patient in this fight,” he said. “Obviously, I (would have) liked to knock him out in the first minute, but I felt he was a though guy, and he’s real powerful, especially in that first round. He finishes a lot of guys in the first round. He caught me with a good dinger…but I felt like I finished the round real strong.”
With this win, Henderson earns another title for his trophy case. He had been unsuccessful in his previous three attempts at a major title, but the fourth time ended up being the charm. Henderson was also the last PrideFC middleweight and light heavyweight champion. He was the only fighter in PrideFC history to hold titles in two divisions simultaneously.