"Many beyond Jake Shields"...
LinkFor the first time since 2007, MMA superstar Dan Henderson (25-7 MMA, 0-0 SF) will fight for someone other than the UFC.
Henderson makes his heavily anticipated Strikeforce debut in a middleweight title match with current champ Jake Shields (24-4-1 MMA, 2-0 SF) at Saturday's CBS-broadcast "Strikeforce: Nashville" event, and while many believe "Hendo" arrives as the instant class of the Strikeforce organization, the 39-year-old brawler believes plenty of challenges await.
"You know, it didn't bring me over here to just be on CBS but to be able to still have some big challenges as far as fights go in Strikeforce," Henderson said on a recent media call promoting the event. "They've got a pretty good, big roster of fighters now, some big challenges.
"That's why it's not only the money and everything else, but without the challenge it wouldn't really excite me. So, I'm fairly excited about being on CBS and fighting Jake Shields."
"Fairly excited" is about all you can hope for out of the even-keeled Henderson. But his low-key camera persona has never stopped him from being explosive inside the cage.
A former dual-belt holder in PRIDE, Henderson will get his chance at Strikeforce gold right off the bat, and the Team Quest fighter said he wouldn't have it any other way.
"I'm very excited and hungry to just get out there and fight and fight well," Henderson said. "It's been a while since I've been out there, and I definitely want to be impressive with my first fight in Strikeforce. There is a belt on the line, so I'm very excited about that."
Henderson hasn't seen action since a stunning knockout of Michael Bisping at this past July's historic UFC 100 event. While fighters are often concerned with the potential effect of "cage rust," the veteran Henderson says he believes the time off has probably been more beneficial than costly.
"I don't see any cons in it, other than it gave my body a chance to relax and recover from different injuries," Henderson said. "But, I'm in the gym every day that I'm home training my guys and training with them, so I feel like I've been fighting the whole time while I've been home in the gym.
"The pros, I guess, is it's been a while since I've been in there and I'm pretty excited and hungry to be back in there. I've been chomping at the bit for months now waiting to get back in the cage."
Henderson carries a three-fight win streak into the cage with him. That falls well short of the 13-fight run Shields is currently enjoying, but Henderson believes he's faced plenty of foes just as good as his current adversary.
"I feel like over the years I've fought guys as good or better than Jake on the ground that are great at submissions," Henderson said. "I'm not too bad there myself, so I'm not really too concerned too much about it. But I am also aware that that's probably the biggest danger for me when fighting Jake Shields, but I'm going to be very comfortable there."
Henderson is a clear-cut favorite according to bookmakers, but Shields has defeated the likes of Carlos Condit, Paul Daley, Robbie Lawler, Jason "Mayhem" Miller, Yushin Okami, Mike Pyle and Nick Thompson, among others. Henderson expects a contest more exciting than the odds would seem to indicate.
"Jake has been on a big winning streak, and he's very dangerous in certain aspects of the game," Henderson said. "I'm sure he plans on taking me down and using some of his submissions. There are definitely things I need to watch out for and be careful for.
"I think this fight is going to be on the ground and everywhere else. I think it's got the potential to be a really exciting fight."