Tonight (March 5), Strikeforce brings its stable of stars to Columbus, Ohio, to invade the Nationwide Arena for the "Feijao vs. Henderson" event.
MMAmania.com will provide live round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of all the main card action starting with the Showtime broadcast, which begins at 10 p.m. ET, while also providing quick results of the preliminary fights starting at 8 p.m. ET.
With that out of the way, let's talk about the main event of the evening, featuring the legendary Dan Henderson attempting to win yet another championship by ripping it from the hands of Muay Thai killer Rafael Cavalcante.
"Hendo" was last seen separating Renato Sobral from his senses last December to earn his shot at the light heavyweight title.
"Feijao" hasn't seen action since his outstanding performance against Muhammed Lawal last August, in which he won the 205-pound strap.
He's drawn one hell of a test in his first defense of said belt. Is he good enough to pass the exam?
Record: 26-8 overall, 1-1 in Strikeforce
How he got here: Henderson is no stranger to this whole MMA thing. He's been around the block a few times and went head up against some of the best in the history of the sport. While he hasn't always come out on the other side with the proverbial "W," he did what he does best against "Babalu" to earn this chance at gold. Despite the lack of depth Strikeforce has in its light heavyweight division, this is still a shot Dan earned the hard way.
How he gets it done: Same way he has always gotten it done; unload that missile of a right hand when the opportunity presents itself and use his wrestling when things get tight. "Decision Dan" can't make a comeback here though. Yes, he's an Olympic level wrestler but he needs to use that to set up the big punch. Cavalcante's been rocked before by guys with lesser power than Henderson. "Hollywood" needs to make his way out to the cage tonight and impose his game. "Feijao" is a killer in the clinch but "Hendo" isn't just competent there, he also might be just as "Dangerous." Enough nicknames for you? Good. Basically, dirty boxing if he has too, but use his wrestling to tire Rafael out and push off for the big right.
Record: 10-2 overall, 3-1 in Strikeforce
Key Wins: Muhammed Lawal (Strikeforce: Houston), Antwainn Britt (Strikeforce: Heavy Artillery)
Key Losses: Marcio Cruz (IFL: Las Vegas), Mike Kyle (Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields)
How he got here: By absolutely mauling "King Mo" Lawal in Houston back in August of last year to win the light heavyweight crown. It's rather unfortunate that so very few fans know who this guy is because he's one of the better 205-pound fighters in the sport today. He's training with one of, if not thee, most elite teams in all of MMA. His Muay Thai clinch is deadly and he's got knockout power in both hands, both knees, both feet and let's just say it's a good thing headbutts aren't legal. Kidding aside, he's got what it takes to become the first guy to knock out Dan Henderson.
How he gets it done: Even saying that, however, the gameplan should not be to try to knock Henderson out. As much as it may upset the live audience and the hundreds viewing at home, I think he needs to play defense for the majority of the fight. The last time "Hendo" was dragged into deep waters, what happened? Yeah, that happened. Jake Shields tooled him in every conceivable way. Sure, you can blame the weight cut for that, which Dan won't have this time around, but we don't know if that was actually the case. Could he simply be getting too old to hang with the young hungry lions in today's game? I think "Feijao" should give us a first hand look.
Fight "X-Factor:" As I was just alluding to, it's conditioning. Because Henderson's chin is made of granite, there is no reason to think Cavalcante will become the first guy to finish him with strikes. In fact, I can't even envision in my mind what that would look like. I also couldn't do that with Lyoto Machida before "Shogun" Rua put his lights out, so that doesn't mean much. What I'm saying is, this fight is most likely to come down to who can last the longest. I see a lot of clinch work and pummeling against the cage. Who's going to get tired first?
Bottom Line: I have no clue who to pick to win this fight. On the one hand, Henderson has never been knockout out and only ever submitted by the best in the business. On the other hand, the guys that submitted him, are all members of Team Black House, the elite team that "Feijao" is a member of and the same guys that have been giving him the dirt on "Hendo" in the lead-up to this fight. My two questions for this fight are: Does the big right hand from Henderson land? Who gets tired first. My two answers are: No and Dan. The same guy that walks into the cage with the belt around his waist, will walk out of it with it.