Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Dan Henderson (27-8 MMA, 2-1 SF) has long been a dual-division contender.
But the former PRIDE middleweight and welterweight champion is taking on a different challenge later this month when he faces heavyweight great Fedor Emelianenko (31-3 MMA, 1-2 SF). But at 40 years old, Henderson isn't worried about bulking up to level the playing field.
"I think I have to weigh-in over 206, so (I'll be) 206.1 (pounds), I guess," Henderson told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
Henderson and Emelianenko meet in the main event of "Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson," which takes place July 30 at Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Ill. The main card airs on Showtime.
There was initially some discussion that the fight would take place at a catchweight, but Henderson said he never concerned himself with fighting his heavyweight foe anywhere but his natural division.
"In the past, I've never felt small against heavyweights," Henderson said. "I was excited for the fight, in general, and I don't care what he comes in at. I've never agreed with catchweights in the past, and I'm OK fighting up, so it is what it is."
Emelianenko was once considered by many to be the world's best pound-for-pound fighter, but back-to-back losses to Antonio Silva and Fabricio Werdum have seen the Russian's stock drop in the eyes of most MMA pundits.
That said, Henderson believes the blueprints laid by the massive former super-heavyweight and submission ace don't necessarily apply to him.
"I've never done an armbar in a fight, and I'm not 80 pounds bigger than him to lay on him," Henderson said. "Those two losses aren't really my style.
"I think we match-up real well for an exciting fight. I think I've got to wear him out early in the fight and really make him keep up a pretty good pace and get on top of him, as well. … I really hope he comes in great shape and motivated, re-motivated for this fight, because that's the Fedor I want to fight."
Henderson is 5-1 in his past six fights – a run that includes a 2-1 mark in Strikeforce, as well as UFC victories over Michael Bisping, Rich Franklin and Rousimar Palhares. Meanwhile, Emelianenko badly needs a win to snap that two-fight losing streak and remain relevant in the heavyweight division.
Should Henderson pull off a victory, it's not clear exactly what lies ahead. Retirement looms in the distance, but Henderson believes there are still bright moments to come.
"[My plan is] not to lose again," Henderson said. "I don't know how long I'm going to fight for. I'm sue I've got two or three more years in me. I kind of liked having fights back-to-back for a while and then having a little time off and do it again. I'm hoping to do that again toward the end of this year going into next year – have two or three fights back-to-back, where I cannot get too out of shape. I'm getting older now. I've got to keep my body in shape.
"But as long as I can keep beating the young guys, I'm satisfied. I feel like I can still compete, and experience is invaluable in MMA. I'm pretty happy with the way my career has gone, and I'm not done yet."