Strikeforce Middleweight Champion Jake Shields spoiled the Strikeforce debut of Dan Henderson, as Shields defeated the former PRIDE Welterweight and Middleweight champion via unanimous decision at Strikeforce: Nashville this past Saturday.
Hendo exploded on Shields in the first round and dominated the champion with several of his trademark right hands. A title change seemed inevitable as the first round came to an end, as Shield was in major trouble when the buzzer sounded.
“I knew I hurt him real bad,” Henderson stated after the bout. “But [I] didn’t land those next couple of punches to finish him off and he battled back and had a big heart to keep going.”
Shields managed to come back in a big way, and dominated Henderson for the following four rounds. Shields scored takedown after takedown over the next 20 minutes. He would continually mount Henderson and pepper the former DREAM champion with strikes from the top.
“Jake had a great game plan,” admitted Henderson. “He covered well on top and stayed there, and I did a very bad job getting up. He deserves all the respect.
“That’s the thing about this sport, you never know until it’s all the way over,” he continued. “I was surprised at myself that I wasn’t able to get up and out. I didn’t want him on my back. I think that’s why he goes to the mount. He doesn’t do a whole lot of damage there but he does enough to get guys to roll over. I felt kind of flat on my back… I don’t think I was in danger during the fight but he controlled me real well.”
While Henderson, who turns 40 this August, has been fighting at middleweight for the past two years, he admitted that having to cut 15-20 pounds for this fight was tougher than usual.
“[The weight cut] was a little rougher than normal but I don’t want to place blame on anything other than my performance.”
Despite losing his Strikeforce debut, Henderson still plans on being a formidable force in their middleweight division.
“I’d feel a little bit better had I won,” Henderson said. “I was happy when I left. I’m happy now. I’m still going to be here. I’m still going to try and fight the best guys in the world.”