Late last night Jake Shields pushed through an early scare to demoralize and embarrass an inept Dan Henderson.
I'd like to take this time to say, I told you so.
With that out of the way, I'm sure your asking, how I was so sure when the odds-makers and pundits were declaring this a walk-over for the former UFC title contender?
The answer is very simple. Dan Henderson was overrated.
There's just no two ways about it. The former Pride dual-divisional champion, and several-time UFC title challenger has had a hype train building up steam ever since the orgasmic strike that leveled Michael Bisping at UFC 100.
But let's back up.
Going into the fight pundits seemed to form a consensus. "Dan Henderson's power is too much for Shields." "Hendo's wrestling will cancel out Shields' jiu-jitsu." "Henderson's size is going to be way too much for Shields, I mean Shields is a welterweight and Hendo's a light heavyweight."
This is a major problem I have with MMA analysis. We don't do our research, choosing instead to form our opinions around the words of promotional bodies, and/or fighters. This is unfortunate because a quick examination of the claims could have given people more than enough cause to refute ALL of these claims.
For starters, Dan Henderson has power, but only in a single strike; the right hook. A strike Hendo can only seem to set up with long spells on his feet. But even then he couldn't knockout famously fragile fighters like Ricardo Arona or Rich Franklin.
To add to matters, everyone assumed Shields' chin was as poor as Bisping's, when the truth is he hasn't been knocked out since March of 2000. He went eight minutes with Paul Daley before submitting him, and he went the distance with a prime "Mach" Sakurai. The guy's taken shots in the past. There was no reason to think Dan Henderson's one-dimensional attack would fair any better.
Where the case starts to gain its traction is when you factor in Hendo's wrestling base. Dan Henderson was a legitimate Olympic wrestler, he finished 10th in the '92 Barcelona games. However, anyone who's been following Dan's career would know his athletic gifts are leaving him.
He was taken down and submitted by Anderson Silva, he was out-grappled by Kazuo Misaki, Ricardo Arona, and Lil' Nog, twice. The fighters who beat Dan Henderson are superior offensive grapplers, not strikers.
Then there was the argument over the size difference. Shields prefers to fight at welterweight because he's a big welterweight. The fact is though physically he's right at home at middleweight save for the occasional freak of weight cutting such as Anderson Silva, or Anthony Johnson.
Dan isn't one of those guys, he's a squatty guy, who fits in at 185 quite nicely. At 205 he was chronically undersized.
The size wasn't a big factor.
With all of that said, the issue that concerns me far more than, saying I told you so, is figuring out how this happened. How a razor-thin matchup that should favor the champion, was tagged as the cataclysmic upset that the -700 line had it as.
The only good reason I can come up with is ZUFFA sheen. It's no secret many thought Dan was the No. 1 contender to Anderson Silva's middleweight crown, while Jake has never gotten that spotlight.
How dare we not do our due diligence and actually do the legwork leading up to important cards.
We whine about the sport not getting the pop an irrelevant boxing tussle like Mayweather/Mosley does on HBO. Yet, we ourselves aren't even willing to watch fight film, most of which is available on the Internet whenever we want it.
ZUFFA doesn't have to tell us who the best fighters in the world are, and given their track record of history alteration, we should not believe them.
Instead we engaged in a cult of personality, simply because we felt Dan got a raw deal from ZUFFA which, by the way, he did.
Point is, Jake Shields didn't win the lottery by defeating Dan Henderson last night. He executed and proved he was, by far, the better fighter.
If Dan had landed that right hand a little more flush, he would have been the one who hit the jackpot. In the same way Scott Smith did against Cung Le. Hendo had a puncher's chance last night. Nothing more.
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