September 30, 2005

MMAWeekly Radio and Jeff Cain
Dan Henderson likes fighting bigger guys. He has fought bigger opponents pretty much his entire Mixed Martial Arts career. He’s accustom to fighting at 205 pounds, and not having to cut weight. There simply aren’t a lot of fighters out there, excluding heavyweights, that compete at their natural weight. People have pondered for years how good Dan Henderson would be if he fought at 185/183. He answered their questions last weekend when he defeated Ryo Chonan and Akihiro Gono by knockouts to advance to the finals of the Pride Bushido welterweight tournament.

Henderson recently appeared on MMAWeekly Soundoff Radio, and discussed his tournament wins, the impending rematch with Murilo Bustamante in the finals, and whether he’ll stay in that weight class or move back up to the Pride middleweight division following the tournament’s conclusion.

Anytime a fighter competes in a tournament format they’d like to get the first match over as fast as possible, but not even Henderson expected his first round bout against Ryo Chonan to end in just 22 seconds. “I had no idea it would be that quick. I can’t complain, but obviously that’s what I was training for, to get in his face right away and try to knock him out as quick as I could when he kicked. I didn’t expect it. I was ready to go the whole distance with him. It’s nice when that happens especially the first round of a tournament.” Henderson told MMAWeekly.

After the quick knockout of Chonan, Dan went on to knockout Akihiro Gono just shy of the eight minute mark in the semi-final match up. Henderson and Murilo Bustamante are set to rematch in the finals for Pride welterweight championship. They first fought nearly two years ago in Pride: Final Conflict 2003. Henderson won by knockout in just under a minute, but Bustamante claims a headbutt changed the outcome of the fight.

Addressing the alleged headbutt, Henderson said, “I wouldn’t call it a headbutt. He shot in and banged my head with his head, but he immediately dropped down to my legs and tried to take me down. I don’t know how much it affected him. It didn’t feel like it…I think what mostly affected him was when I kneed him in the face.”

Questioned what he’ll do different this time around against Bustamante, Dan replied, “Hopefully it goes the same way as the first time. I don’t know. I’m probably definitely going to work on brushing up on submission defense, and grounding and pounding on top, and just maintaining what I’m doing on my feet.”

As previously stated, Dan Henderson likes to fight bigger guys. He’s been successful at the higher weight class, so will Dan stay as a welterweight or move back up to the middleweight division? Henderson said, “I don’t know. We’ll see what Pride has in mind for me, but I’d like to go up and fight a couple of the guys up at the next weight class. I’d like to fight Shogun, Arona, or Wanderlei.”

If Henderson wins the Pride welterweight championship, he’ll surely have to defend it, but a champion vs champion rematch with Wanderlei Silva would be entertaining. First he has to get past the former UFC middleweight champ, Murilo Bustamante, in the finals of the Bushido welterweight tournament.