Dan Henderson: 5 Opponents We Would Still Love to See Him Fight

First LastCorrespondent IMarch 7, 2011

Dan Henderson: 5 Opponents We Would Still Love to See Him Fight

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    After knocking out Rafael Cavalcante on Saturday, MMA living legend Dan Henderson became the Strikeforce light heavyweight champion and improved his extensive record to 27-8.

    The title has been changing hands quickly in the organization. Since 2008, there have been five LHW champions including Henderson. The next question is: Who's next for the Olympian Greco-Roman wrestler?

    Henderson remains a viable threat to anyone in the middleweight and light heavyweight divisions. He could even venture into the heavyweight division. This gives Strikeforce more than enough options for the 40-year-old.

    Like Olympic teammate Randy Couture, Henderson continues to fight the best well over a decade into his MMA career. It's his attitude towards the sport and will to fight anyone that makes everyone appreciate his success.

No. 5: Tim Kennedy (13-3)

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    Kennedy is a legitimate contender for the middleweight champion held by Ronaldo Souza; the last person who defeated him for the belt. In his performance last weekend, he submitted dangerous striker Melvin Manhoef by first-round submission.

    Serving full-time in the military and fighting isn't something fighters do, but for Kennedy, he is the only one who does. He was awarded the Army's Bronze Star medal while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    He makes a solid opponent for Henderson at middleweight, and is the arguably the second-best middleweight in Strikeforce. Of his 13 victories, only one is by decision. Seven have come by submission, which is the area he is most prominent in. If Henderson is willing to make the cut, and he is, this could be a very competitive fight.

No. 4: Gegard Mousasi (30-3-1)

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    HOLLYWOOD - MARCH 17:  Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Gegard 'The Dreamcatcher' Mousasi attends the CBS' Strikeforce MMA Fighters Open Media Workout on March 17, 2010 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)
    Valerie Macon/Getty Images

    Mousasi is the former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion and has fought in three different weight division like Henderson. This fight could take place at LHW or heavyweight and is probably the most likely fight to happen next if Mousasi makes it past his next opponent, Mike Kyle.

    The 25-year-old would have a 15-year age advantage on Henderson. This judo black belt has only been to decision three times in over 30 fights. Before losing to Muhammad Lawal, he was riding a 15-fight win streak.

    A fight with Henderson would be a worthy title fight for Mousasi. His combination of stand up and ground skills would give Henderson a lot of problems. His most notable weakness is his takedown defense, which was the main factor in him losing his title to Muhammad Lowal. This would be the area Henderson would look to capitalize on.

    Whoever has the best cardio in this fight wins.

No. 3: Muhammad "King Mo" Lawal (7-1)

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    HOLLYWOOD - MARCH 17:  Undefeated Light Heavyweight contender 'King Mo' Lawal (L) and Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Gegard 'The Dreamcatcher' Mousasi (R) attends the CBS' Strikeforce MMA Fighters Open Media Workout on March 17, 2010 in Hollywood,
    Valerie Macon/Getty Images

    Lawal is another former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion. He lost his title four months after winning it to Rafael Feijao.

    This NCAA Division I wrestler may be the toughest opponent on this list for the UFC and Pride veteran. The biggest difference between the two is experience, and Henderson has a lot of it. Lawal made his MMA debut in 2008; 10 years after Henderson made his UFC debut.

    Whoever is able to combine their skills will have the best chance of winning this fight. Henderson has been known to be one-dimensional in recent fights, but his last performance against Feijao shows he is still employing solid game plans to win fights.

No. 2: Ronaldo Souza (14-2)

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    Souza is the current Strikeforce middleweight champion. He is a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and judo. He recently defended his title against Robbie Lawler in January. 

    Against Brazilian fighters, Henderson has a positive 13-5 record. What makes this fight interesting is Souza's only two losses have come by knockout, and Henderson is known for knocking opponents out. This fight goes one of two ways; Henderson by knockout or it ends with a close five-round decision.

    A middleweight title fight is something that could mirror Henderson's achievement as being the only man to hold two titles at once when he was the Pride welterweight and middleweight champion.

No. 1: Fedor Emelianenko (31-3)

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    Emelianenko is currently riding a two-fight losing streak, but Henderson has expressed interest before about fighting the Russian fighter. This may be the biggest draw outside of Emelianenko vs. Overeem, and it could be a headliner on PPV.

    Emelianenko would not be at a distinct size disadvantage in this fight. His last opponent, Antonio Silva, was reported to have weighed more than 50 pounds than him during their fight. If he isn't willing to drop to the 205-pound weight division, Henderson would have no problem moving up.

    This would be a career-defining fight for Henderson if he wins, and that would be amazing considering the record he already has.