It may be a bit early to speculate on Dan Henderson's career, especially since he hasn't had his first fight yet for Strikeforce, but it seems that when a fighter leaves the UFC, it isn't long before they return.
Henderson will face Jake Shields tonight for the Strikeforce Middleweight championship. He is a big favorite over the champ, and most feel he'll walk out of the cage tonight as the new champion.
Regardless of the outcome, Henderson has limited options in the middleweight division. Shields will likely leave the promotion after the fight, so a re-match between the two isn't likely to happen.
Nick Diaz, Robbie Lawler, Jason Miller, and Scott Smith all have name recognition to MMA fans, but Henderson would be a heavy favorite against all of them. Also, none possess the potential mainstream appeal to garner big ratings on a future CBS broadcast.
Looking outside of the middleweight division, Hendo could move back to the light-heavyweight division after his fight tonight.
He's made no secret that he'd like to fight the current champion in the division, Gegard Mousasi.
"Gegard is a great fighter, someone I'd definitely like to face," Henderson explained when asked about the young Dutch fighter. "If it's a fight that the promoters and fans want to see as well, then it's very likely to happen."
A Mousasi-Henderson fight could be hyped as the biggest fight in Strikeforce history, and it would be a great fight for a future CBS broadcast.
If "King Mo" would somehow pull off the upset against Mousasi, Henderson could face him as well. Those two could very easily main event any big event on CBS, unless Henderson decided not to worry about the title and focus exclusively on Mousasi.
The big fight that looms on the horizon for Henderson is a contest against Fedor Emelianenko. He's made no secret about his desire to face off against the Russian superstar.
"Fedor is the best in the sport, and I think a fight against him would be huge," Henderson said when asked about Emelianenko. "If I can avoid taking the big shots from him, I think I could do some things to him that no one has done yet."
Henderson would likely have to have an introduction fight to the heavyweight division before facing Fedor. Since Fedor is a smaller heavyweight, a fight against Fabricio Werdum would make for sense for Henderson as opposed to fighting a giant like Brett Rogers, Antonio Silva, or Alistair Overeem.
Much like the two lighter divisions, there just isn't much depth among the heavyweight fighters. In fact, depth is the biggest problem for Strikeforce as a company. Sure, they have some very good fighters and big names, but after the top two or three in each weight class, the talent level drops off at a dramatic rate.
It's that lack of depth that could very well have Henderson bolting back to Dana White and the UFC once he completes his four-fight deal with Strikeforce. The company needs to start acquiring more talent from around the world, including the UFC, as well as focus on bringing up young, talented fighters through their Strikeforce Challenger series of events.
Although he'll turn 40 later this year, Henderson has shown he still has plenty of gas left in his MMA tank. Fights with Mousasi and Fedor would undoubtedly be big challenges for him, but they would also help grow and expand the sport.
Strikeforce is on a roll right now, and they should have a huge night with three great title fights on the card. Unfortunately for them, unless they solve their depth issue soon, Dan Henderson may prove to be nothing more than a short-term acquisition before departing back to the UFC.
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