June 10, 2011
CHICAGO -- Sitting at a restaurant in Chicago with Strikeforce boss Scott Coker and a handful of reporters, Dan Henderson answered questions on a variety of topics, from his future with Strikeforce to the his opponent on July 30, Fedor Emelianenko. He made it clear that he was not done yet, and is looking forward to this next challenge.
"With both of our careers, we've done a lot in the sport. You match two guys up like that, and with me probably being the underdog and a smaller guy, I have a lot more to gain than he does. I have a lot less to lose, and those fights are always the most fun for me," he told Cagewriter
Henderson will fight in a weight class much larger than any of his other fights, against a man who, until recently, was considered unstoppable. At 40 years old and with a legacy in combat sports set, why do it?
"The challenge of things, and things like fighting Fedor. That's the biggest challenge of my career. Those are things that excite me and motivate me to keep going," Henderson said.
In this bout, he won't defend his recently-won Strikeforce light-heavyweight belt. That hardly matters to Henderson.
"No, when I'm out there, I don't think, [expletive], the belt's not on the line. I better not hit this guy. I'm just as motivated when I train."
But the prospect of uniting light heavyweight titles across Strikeforce and the UFC does interest Henderson. When Henderson signed with Strikeforce, it seemed an impossibility, but Zuffa's purchase of Strikeforce changed that.
"As soon as Zuffa bought Strikeforce, Jon Jones fought right after that. Everybody was blowing up my Twitter about fighting Jon Jones. I think that fight would be fun for me because he's so unorthodox. It's something that probably needs to be built up after I defend the belt once or twice."
Focused on Fedor
And it's not the fight that Henderson is focused on at the moment. Though he says that he never bought into the mystique of Fedor Emelianenko, he does respect what the Russian fighter has accomplished.
"I knew that he was talented and tough and there every fight. Those are the types of guys that are pretty consistent and I would never bet against him."
Like all fight fans, Henderson has wondered what happened to Emelianenko in his last few fights, which were losses to Fabricio Werdum and Antonio Silva.
"Looking on the outside, his heart hasn't been into it. He's hardly trained. Ever since PRIDE, he doesn't look like he's put much into it. I'm hoping he gets rejuvenated."
Timing was a key part in putting this fight together.
"It was something that was interesting to me, that could possibly make everyone a lot of money, but things had to fall in the right way. With me losing my first fight, and then him losing, I thought it wasn't going to happen. Just the way things have gone in the light heavyweight division and then Fedor getting mugged by a really big heavyweight, they started looking at fighting littler guys. I'm probably about as little as he'll get to fight ever in his life. "
Henderson, who normally walks around at 204 lbs., has no plans of getting bigger to fight Emelianenko, who weighed in for his last fight at 230 lbs.
"It won't change a whole lot at all, except at weigh-ins, I'll drink water to make sure I'm over 205 lbs. I don't typically weigh over 205 much at all."
With a loss to Henderson, Emelianenko's management indicated that he might retire. Henderson doesn't want to see him walk away from MMA, but that doesn't mean he intends to hold back on July 30.
"No, I'm a fan of his like everyone else. I don't want to see him retire. But that won't stop me from beating him, either. "
Retirement isn't on Henderson's mind. He still wants to accomplish more, but he thanks his open approach to the sport for his long, successful career.
"My first fight, I hadn't done any training in MMA. I was just a wrestler. To learn along the way has been fun, and to evolve with the sport, and having the mentality that I could learn from anybody. That, and being smart over the years with my training."
That open-minded work ethic, and one other thing.
"Viagra," he said with a laugh.
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