THE WORLD OF MMA has come so far in the last six months that most fans have become slightly blasé about the fact that Dan Henderson and Fedor Emelianenko collide this weekend.
With headline bouts like Rampage and Jones, Tito and Rashad, and GSP and Diaz coming up this year it now seems that each event is getting progressively bigger and better.
This weekend’s Strikeforce event in Chicago is the first of these exciting cards as former PRIDE middleweight champ and current Strikeforce light heavyweight champ Dan Henderson takes on the one-time invincible heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko.
It is unusual for a defending champion to come into a bout as an underdog but this is the situation “Hendo” finds himself in, even though his opponent is coming off back to back defeats.
Fedor finds himself in the equally unusual position of having to prove himself again, despite rivalling Anderson Silva for the top spot in the pound for pound rankings for the past couple of years.
Things to consider
Dan Henderson is arguably in the prime of his career but at the age of 40, he is no spring chicken. Fedor has the benefit of having six years less wear and tear on the body in his favour. After Fedor’s last defeat there was a lot of talk of him retiring so it will be interesting to see if the motivation to be the best is still there.
In terms of skill sets, both men are quite well matched when it comes to standing toe-to-toe. Fedor will have to be wary of Henderson’s big right hand. Obviously nobody told Michael Bisping about that.
Similarly, no one seemed to mention Fedor’s big right to Brett Rogers.
When it comes to their ground games, it is hard to find an advantage for either fighter. Henderson is an Olympic standard Greco-Roman wrestler with a Pan American Games gold medal in his trophy cabinet.
Fedor has competed at World Championship level in Judo as well as picking up numerous gold medals at the Russian and European Sambo Championships.
What can split them?
Although the fight is being advertised as a heavyweight bout, both fighters must not weigh over 220lbs. This is the first time Fedor will have to cut weight for a fight as he has gone through his whole career fighting at heavyweight.
Henderson is the current 205lb champ and some people believe that the weight could be the difference in this close contest. Many believe that if a fighter is heavier than his opponent it is an advantage. However, in a recent interview Chael Sonnen shed new light on the weight issue and claimed he views it as a weight disadvantage. He believes that the more lightweight the fighter, the faster he is, thus dispelling the myth that the bigger fighter will always have the upper hand.
If Fedor is to be regarded as one of the greatest fighters of all time, a win over Henderson is a must. A win could also put him in line for a fight in the UFC, something MMA fans have been hoping to see for a long time. A win for Henderson would propel him to the same level of superstardom as the likes of Anderson Silva, GSP and indeed Fedor.
Although it is too close to call one thing is for sure, it is going to be one hell of a spectacle and hopefully the first of many for the rest of 2011.