Dan Henderson became the second MMA fighter of the modern era over 40 to win a world title in a major organization with his resounding defeat of Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante on Saturday night. With the knockout of Feijao, Henderson secured Strikeforce’s Light Heavyweight title and gave the fans what they were thirsting for after seeing his disappointing loss to Jake Shields and even with Fedor Emelianenko’s most recent defeats, a legend with their hand raised in the cage.
To this point, all of the major stars of the PRIDE era (Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, both Nogueira brothers, Emelianenko and even Henderson) have struggled to keep up with this new generation of fighters in the cages of UFC and Strikeforce. They’ve seen their greatest talents neutralized and had the allure of their invincibility all but removed. Many of them are now considered stepping stones in their respective divisions, gatekeepers to a much larger payday at the top of the card.
With this latest win, Henderson finally lived up to the hype, but in doing so, his win continued a streak that tarnishes the Light Heavyweight belt: no one that has won the strap has defended the belt even one time. Renato “Babalu” Sobral, Gegard Mousasi, “King Mo” Muhammed Lawal and now Feijao, have been unable to prove themselves to be “true champions” by defending the title they’ve worked their entire career to achieve.
Henderson defies the odds already as at 40, many men are at home mowing their lawns, spending time with the kids and smiling about the amount of money they made in the early years of their fighting careers. There are exceptions to every rule and Henderson is one of them.
Henderson looked lethal in the fight, controlling the fight with his Greco-Roman wrestling and solid striking. After taking a massive punch from the champion that felled him in the opening stanza, Henderson pulled Feijao in tight on the mat to give himself time to collect his thoughts and live to fight another round. His strategy paid off as it was he who pushed the pace for the remaining five minutes and 54 seconds. The “gas tank” that so many pundits had claimed was completely empty was tested, but “Hendo” proved he had more than enough to pace himself and secure the win. With one right hand; one jackhammer of a right hand, Henderson proved once again why he’s long been considered among the most dangerous fighters in history.
With Randy Couture still fighting well into his 40s as well, there’s a new model for fighters. It’s not so much about the age of the fighter in the fight, but more about how many more rounds you have left. If Henderson is intent on stopping the “curse” on the Light Heavyweight title, he will more than likely have to fight off the same fighters that were mentioned before. “King Mo” has been recovering from the knee injury that hampered his ability against Feijao and lead to his loss.
With his knockout of Rafael Cavalcante on Saturday night, Dan Henderson still proved that he has gas in the tank. How the last chapters of his fight biography are written are entirely up to him at this point, but Strikeforce has to be happy that one of the two major PRIDE investments finally paid off.
(Reprinted with permission from FoxSports.com)
Tags: dan henderson, Mixed Martial Arts, PRIDE, Strikeforce