Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson goes down tomorrow night from the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.
FightLine.com owner Raj Giri and head writer Mark Wayne preview the main event and offer their predictions for the show. Also, don’t forget to check back at FightLine.com Saturday afternoon for our live, ongoing coverage of Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson.
Strikeforce Main Event Breakdown: Fedor Vs. Henderson
In this fight, we’ll see two legendary Pride Fighting Championships veterans square off in a superfight to be contested in the Strikeforce heavyweight division. While Emelianenko is coming off of two consecutive defeats — the first emphatic losses of his career — to Fabricio Werdum and Antonio Silva, Henderson is surging, having knocked out both Renato Sobral and then Rafael Cavalcante to capture the Strikeforce light heavyweight belt.
The odds-on favorite to win the bout, The Last Emperor will own a weight advantage over his opponent for the first time in several fights, as Henderson is a natural light heavyweight who generally only cuts weight to fight in the middleweight division. Though the idea that Emelianenko is a soft-spoken, unbeatable monster has rightly faded, many have forgotten that the stoic Russian possesses a threatening all-around skill set that kept him at the top of the heap for years while competing in Japan. An expert in Sambo, with almost equally potent striking and ground skills, Emelianenko is a threat from most positions and is a durable, crafty veteran to boot.
Once a competitor on the US Olympic Greco-Roman wrestling squad, Henderson will be giving up a few years and a few pounds to Emelianenko, but has unquestionably looked better in his recent outings than has his former Pride FC peer. The 40-year-old is six years older and will be somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty pounds lighter than his opponent, but his solid positional control and dynamite-laced hands coupled with his iron chin and general MMA savvy make for an opponent who should hardly be considered as much of an underdog by the oddsmakers as he is.
Mark: Both men swing heavy leather, can take a punch square, know a thing or two from the clinch and can well hold their own on the mat. With Emelianenko’s desire to compete seemingly waning, this looks like Henderson’s fight to win — and the gritty Californian possesses all the tools to make that happen — but, if he mustered the fire to put in a proper training camp, The Last Emperor should be able to go tit-for-tat with Hendo and throw his weight around to keep in control. Emelianenko via unanimous decision.
Raj: I have to agree with Mark, so much of the outcome depends on which Fedor shows up. If the desire to compete still burns in the former PRIDE champion, I think he should be able to win the fight. However, I see Henderson avoiding Fedor’s big shots and connecting more, en route to taking home a unanimous decision victory. Henderson via unanimous decision.