Dan Henderson’s stoic demeanor outside the cage does not follow him inside it when it comes time to fight.
Henderson, the current Strikeforce light heavyweight champion, is scheduled to meet Fedor Emelianenko in a contest that fight fans from around the world have waited several years to see on July 30 at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Ill.
The two competed in Pride Fighting Championships at the same time, but their paths never crossed. Henderson eventually went on to fight in the UFC, while Emelianenko fought for several other organizations.
Henderson has the ability to go from a soft spoken individual, to a man with knockout power in his hands and an Olympic-level wrestling game just by crossing that line and stepping inside the cage.
In a recent interview with MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani, Henderson discussed how his upcoming fight with “The Last Emperor” came about.
“I needed another fight sometime in July and there wasn’t a clear opponent at light heavyweight,” said Henderson. “They (Strikeforce’s Scott Coker) asked if I wanted to fight Fedor, and I said sure.”
While Henderson has won his past two fights, including a victory over Rafael Cavalcante which earned him his current title, Emeliankeno has dropped his previous two contests.
“I think something was lacking with him,” Henderson said of Fedor’s past two fights. “But I hope he is motivated (for our fight) because I would like to fight the Fedor we all knew that was great. I hope he comes in shape.”
Henderson, always the student when it comes to scouting fighters, sees something he plans on taking advantage of against Emeliankeno.
“He has been wild with his punches (in his last two fights),” Henderson said. “A lot of times he catches you with his punches, but it also leaves him open quite a bit as well. I want to get in there and wear him out.”
This upcoming bout will also mark the final fight on Henderson’s current Strikeforce contract. And with Zuffa’s purchases of the company, there has been talk that he might return to the UFC.
“I am not really sure what’s going to happen,” Henderson said. “There is nowhere else I will go, but it’s always a scary thing when there’s a purchase of people writing your check.”
Henderson’s exit from the UFC in 2009 surprised many, and plenty of reports surfaced about friction between UFC President Dana White and Henderson.
Henderson, though, has no ill-will towards the out-spoken White.
“(With Dana) it has always been the same,” Henderson said. “You just have to know how he is and never take anything personal because it’s just a business decision. He knew that, and he always needs to say certain things to make himself feel better.”