Roundtable Predictions: Fedor Emelianenko vs Dan Henderson

Inside Fights Staff give their predictions for Fedor Emelianenko vs Dan Henderson

Scott Sawitz: Fedor’s time in the spotlight is done. Henderson is not that far behind him but that’s for another day. And today the Olympic Wrestler’s big right hand is going to send the big Russian out on his shield. Neither have shown much of a tendency to go the ground in their last couple fights and it makes me think they’re going to get into a sloppy brawl.

Fedor’s last couple of wins have been more of the Hail Mary type than they have been dominating. And I’m not sure if he has anything similar left for Henderson.

This is going to look similar to his fight against Matt Lindland except for two things. Fedor won’t be able to get away with constantly grabbing the cage, for starters. Hendo also has a hammer of a right hand and good enough footwork to land it. Fedor is going to drop like a sack of Michael Bispings at UFC 100.

Henderson by KO, middle of the second
Will Cooling: Fedor Emelianenko has long been the single most overrated fighter in MMA with even esteemed commentators ignoring the facts in their rush to proclaim him the best fight in the world. It is now almost six years since he faced somebody who went on to win their next fight at heavyweight. Think that through – in the time that’s passed since Emelianenko defeated a genuinely top-level fighter, England’s cricket team has won the Ashes twice and lost them once, Spain’s football team have won a European Cup and World Cup and Britney Spears has released three albums and one sex tape! And yet all he’s faced are hasbeens (Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski), never weres (Mark Hunt and Zuluzinho) also rans (Fabricio Werdum and Antonio Silva) and middleweights (Matt Lindland and in an exhibition Gerard Mousasi).

Dan Henderson naturally fits into that last category but I think Dangerous Dan has what it takes to defeat Emelianenko. Henderson be giving up almost twenty pounds on Saturday but his strength and wrestling background should allow him to impose himself on an Emelianenko that still looks far short of peak condition. Henderson will natural seek to make the fight ugly and take Emelianenko out of his comfort zone – expect to see him try to bully Emelianenko up against the cage and get him to the ground. On the ground Emelianenko’s lack of jiu-jitsu will limit him to ineffective judo and sambo submissions, leaving Henderson free to impose himself and take full advantage of Strikeforce now allowing elbows on the ground. An Emelianenko that was swept from the bottom by BRETT ROGERS and was bloodied and bruised after spending a round on the floor with an Antonio Silva who couldn’t knockout Andrei Arlovski will struggle to survive against one of the best wrestlers in the history of MMA. Emelianenko’s only hope is that Henderson gets tired and he can come on strong later in the fight.
Chris Roberts: I know that Zuffa is running things now and all that but with the shocking release of Alistair Overeem would anybody be truly shocked if Maura Ranallo opened tonight’s broadcast by announcing that the main event tonight would be for the vacated Strikeforce Heavyweight Title? I wouldn’t, in fact I’m rooting for it because otherwise what exactly is the point of this fight other than giving the fans a dream fight about 8 years too late.

But just because this fight is totally useless in the grand scheme of MMA doesn’t mean that it won’t be fun, and it certainly doesn’t mean that it is one of the toughest main events of the year to predict. Both of these guys are on the washed up side of things though overall Henderson has been winning lately while Fedor has not. Earlier this year Bigfoot Silva proved that Fedor is so hit-able that in all of 10 minutes you can turn his face to mush. I look for Henderson to stick with a similar gameplan and ultimately win the fight by sticking and moving and avoiding most of Fedor’s attacks.

Much has been made of the weight issue going in and now the weigh ins are behind us we know that Henderson did not come in at 206 like he promised but a slightly heftier 207. That will give Fedor a 16 pound advantage though as Roy Nelson has been proving as of late it is hard to utilize said weight if it only comes in the fat variety. I say the advantage swings to Hendo who will have the speed he needs to land the shots that will win him the fight. And even though Fedor has been finished his last two times out I think he is savvy enough to avoid the three-peat, just not savvy enough to negotiate his way to the winner’s circle. The end result result will be an upside picture in the Strikeforce heavyweight division with their champ suddenly jobless and their unbeatable money maker riding a three fight losing streak.
Luke Cho Yee: ‘Hendo’ looks like he comes straight out of a John Ford movie. By that i mean hes one of the toughest SOBs to ever grace the sport, and has proved it countless times from Pride to the UFC, and now in Strikeforce with that patented sledgehammer of a right hand. In contrast Fedor has been living off his legacy for way to long now, and he really needs to prove he is still worthy of main event status, following back to back losses to Fabricio Werdum and ‘Big Foot’ Silva, if he stands any chance of revisiting those glory nights he spent in the land of the rising sun.

Emelienenko will be coming in as the bigger man, which will make a welcome change following the nature of his last defeat, in which he was bludgeoned by the 264lb ‘Big Foot’ Silva. ‘The Last Emperor’ had continually made up for his lack of size by using his superior speed and agility against bigger heavyweights, but in recent displays he has begun to look sloppy and has stagnated.

At almost forty one years of age, Henderson is now assuming the mantle of the recently retired Randy Couture, having to increasingly rebut questions about how long he can continue to compete. Following his loss to Jake Shields it appeared that time had finally caught up with the Team Quest stand out, but the calls of retirement proved premature with Hendo destroying Bablu Sobral, before going on to capture the Strikforce light heavyweight title against Feijao Calvacante.

I expect this to a be a highly competitive battle between two legends which will take place in all areas of the sport, with both men exchanging heavy strikes on the feet before engaging in a war of attrition on the ground. Neither man has ever been knocked out so I feel the canvas is the key area to where the fight will be won or lost, with Fedor using his more varied submission game to keep Hendo and his ferocious ground and pound at bay.
Prediction: I expect a bloodied Fedor to edge a three round war, and take a close decision victory.
Jon Kirschner: Whether it’s Fedor Emelianenko finally being put to the test against legitimate opponents in Strikeforce, or if he never was that good in the first place, it is clear that the glowing aura that once surrounded him is now gone. The Fedor Emelianenko that showed up in his last two fights against Bigfoot Silva and Fabricio Werdum has been lacking confidence, composure and an effective game plan. Unfortunately those are three attributes that you NEED to defeat an elite fighter like Dan Henderson.

It’s obvious that both of their careers are winding down, but they’re winding down down different paths. Fedor’s is spiraling out of control: First he loses to the underdog, comes back and gets outclassed by the even bigger underdog, announces his retirement and then is forced to come back by his management. On the opposite end, you have Dan Henderson who is in complete control of where his career is headed. He’s won his last two fights, he’s the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion and is still dominant. Just like Henderson is in control of his career, he’s going to be in control of this fight.

Henderson will go back to his routes and take Emelianenko down at will after softening him up in the first couple rounds with punches. Both of these guys have iron chins, so I don’t see a knockout coming tonight. Fedor really only goes for submissions if: a) he is in danger and b) his opponent puts himself in a bad predicament. Henderson is too intelligent to put himself in one of those predicaments. Dan Henderson will walk away with his hand raised in a decision victory.

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