Dan Henderson entered his fight with Jake Shields Saturday night a huge favorite. He left the fight a beaten man, looking completely outclassed by the Strikeforce Middleweight champion.
Henderson started out great in the first round, and he almost ended the fight after catching Shields with his famous right hand. However, the champion persevered and made it to the end of the round.
Shields struggled at the beginning of the second round as well, but he slowly started to establish himself as the better fighter. He began to win scrambles against the veteran Henderson, and time after time he wound up in a superior position over Hendo.
The last three-and-a-half rounds looked quite similar to each other. The fighters would be on their feet, Shields would shoot on Henderson, get him to the mat, and begin working his ground-and-pound while looking for a submission.
There will be some fans that see the result of the fight and call for Henderson's immediate departure from the sport. They will argue if he can't beat a smaller fighter like Shields, how can he ever expect to compete at the heavier weight classes?
In fact, this loss may be the best thing that happens to Henderson and his career going forward in Strikeforce.
Henderson looked exhausted for most of the fight, and that was due in part to a tough weight cut for his fight with Shields.
"It was a little tougher than normal," Henderson said when asked if the weight cut was rough on his body. "My next fight could be at 185 or 205, we'll see. I may have to do some things different in training if it's at 185 again."
His poor cardio condition can be directly attributed to the weight cut. Henderson made the 185-pound weight limit at the weigh-ins on Friday, but he was already back up to 200 pounds by late Friday night.
Taxing the body in such a severe way isn't healthy, and it will have an adverse effect on a fighter's performance.
Going forward, however, Henderson needs to do one of two things: either better train his body ahead of time so he doesn't cut as much weight, or simply stop fighting at middleweight and concentrate exclusively on the light-heavyweight division.
"I had a good round and a half," Henderson said explaining his performance. "If I could have done things differently, yeah, I would have won. Give credit to Jake, though. He had a good fight and did what he had to do to win."
Simply having a good round and a half isn't enough to win a fight if he doesn't knock his opponent out in that time.
Henderson needs to take a hard look in the mirror and evaluate his performance without bias. He was beaten and outclassed by a fighter that came into the fight in great shape physically, something that Henderson can't say about himself.
Some fighters have mastered the art of cutting weight prior to a fight, but even those fighters face both short and long-term issues with their bodies from doing so much internal damage to it.
The body simply can't function at peak performance when it is put under the extreme stress of cutting a large amount of weight and immediately putting the weight back on.
Dan Henderson was once one of the top middleweight fighters in the world. Those days are now long gone, and he must accept that fact. He can still be a very good, if not great fighter, fighting in the light-heavyweight division.
Henderson still has three fights left on his current Strikeforce deal, and he has many options.
Should Jake Shields decide to leave Strikeforce, Henderson could fight for the Middleweight title again, this time against a different opponent. Henderson could very well win the belt, but he would again do unnecessary damage to his body to fight at the lighter weight.
Although Gegard Mousasi lost his belt, those two could still meet down the road, in a match-up of two fighters looking to redeem themselves after horrible outings.
Henderson showed, even in a weakened state, that he still possesses great punching power. Fighting at a heavier weight would only enhance his power, especially since his body won't be taxed from a weight cut.
Whichever direction Henderson decides to go, it's certain that he will still be a top draw for the company. Writing him off after this fight would be a mistake.
If he takes care of his body and fights at a smart weight for him, he is as dangerous as any fighter in the organization.
To read more by Jesse Motiff, click here .