The 5 Fights That MUST Happen In 2010 #4: Hendo Vs. Mousasi

Elton HobsonCorrespondent IJanuary 23, 2010

LAS VEGAS - JULY 11:  (R-L) Dan Henderson connects with a right to Mike Bisping during their middleweight bout during UFC 100 on July 11, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images

Like a bat out of hell, the UFC has exploded into 2010.

Ok, maybe exploded isn’t exactly the right word. That’s still Mark Coleman’s grizzled bald mug on the poster of the UFC’s Super Bowl show, after all.

In terms of exposure though, there’s no denying that Dana White’s powerhouse promotional skill has dominated the headlines of the MMA and Sports world alike these last few days. Every major sports outlet has given extensive coverage to the ongoing saga du Brock Lesnar. Go to your nearest variety store, and there’s Anderson Silva, dressed like a pimp, staring back at you. Wanna go for a workout? I hear the UFC Gym is the place to go if you wanna be a fuckin’ fighter, man. They’re even building a stadium to host UFC events in Abu Dhabi, for crying out loud.

"Rampage" even found time for another auto accident. Glad there were no energy drinks involved this time.

Hey, don’t get me wrong - I’m 100% for the UFC growing and branching out as much as possible. I think this explosion of publicity is part of an effort by Dana White and the Zuffa marketing machine to re-establish the UFC’s dominance in the MMA marketplace after the setbacks of 2009. Just look at the stacked cards we have lined up for the first half of 2010, featuring no less then 5 title fights in 3 months. We are a long way from the chicken little predictions of only a few weeks ago.

Still, the UFC’s injury induced stumble in the last quarter of 2009 gave enough breathing room to allow Strikeforce, a regional San Hose promotion, to rise to a position of national prominence- largely due to a girl fighter who is equal parts Sarah Connor and Trish Stratus, and some chubby Russian dude.

If Strikeforce is going to survive in 2010 and continue to compete with the UFC stateside, it has to do the two things no North American competitor of the UFC has yet done. The first is to deliver interesting, relevant and profitable cards on a regular basis with consistency. The second is then to establish a serious title legitimacy outside the UFC.

Having Fedor, the universally ranked #1 heavyweight in the world on the roster should be a big help in the “legitimacy” department. However, the same could be said of PRIDE, BoDog, and Affliction, and they all went under while promoting Fedor as the world’s #1. And let’s face it, Fedor has exactly been facing the crème of the crop over the last few years of his career - but more on that later.

My point is that for Strikeforce to survive, they need to establish legitimate champions and interesting fights across multiple divisions. Nothing would help them out in this department like booking Dan Henderson vs. Gegard Mousasi for the 205 lb title.

Signing Dan Henderson was a big coup for Scott Coker and crew, adding needed depth to their 205 and 185 lb divisions. I couldn’t wait to see who they matched him with - until Jake Sheild’s name came up. Are you kidding me? Shields should be fighting at his natural weigh class and not messing around at 185. Against Hendo, I honestly think he’s going to get destroyed. He went full on lay and pray against Jason “Mayhem” Miller for 5 rounds while Miller gave him a hell of a time - I don’t see that strategy working against the bigger, stronger, Olympic caliber wrestler who also happens to hit like a freight train.

What boggles my mind is why Strikeforce doesn’t see what crisis their 205 lb division is in. Gegard Mousasi is a talented, handsome, marketable world class fighter - with literally no interesting fights in front of him. His last challenger was so lowly ranked that the fight wasn’t even for the title. The only name being talked about now is “King Mo” Lawal, but that’s a lose/lose fight for Strikeforce as it kills off one of their two home-grown LHW stars - probably the less experienced Lawal, before he has a chance to gain any serious recognition in his home country. And then what?

Forget Shields - book Henderson vs. Mousasi and you create a LHW fight outside the UFC that would draw legitimate fan interest for the first time in years. It’s a fight between two men arguably on the pound-for pound top ten list, and on paper it’s a great fight. Could Mousasi’s stellar all around MMA game overcome the power, wrestling, experience and right hand of Hendo?

I don’t know, but I would love to find out. And I’m betting I’m not the only one.