Strikeforce Fedor vs. Henderson: Is This Fedor's Last Stand?

Brandon BrighamContributor IJuly 9, 2011

Fedor Emelianenko will fight Dan Henderson on July 30th in Chicago, Ill., headlining an already fantastic Strikeforce card featuring fighters such as Robbie Lawler, Paul Daley, Tim Kennedy and Tyron Woodley. 

The highly-anticipated bout marks a fight for the ages, and one that was talked about way back in the Pride days. Finally, it is materializing—but not necessarily under the conditions that we’d like. 

Fedor is coming off of two straight losses and even announced that he was strongly considering retirement after the loss to Antonio Silva. However, he would retract that statement a few weeks later, touting the possibility of going down to 205 lbs. to make a run at the light heavyweight title. 

Of course, there would ideally be a feeling out process, with a possible catchweight bout at 220 lbs. before making the drop down to 205.

Enter Dan Henderson to rain on Fedor's parade.

Strikeforce thought Dan Henderson would be the perfect opponent for Fedor to test the waters coming down to 205 lbs. Both are legends in the sport, and Henderson is coming off a dominant victory over Rafael Feijao to win the Strikeforce light heavyweight title.

Who better to introduce Fedor to the lighter weight class? Especially if they could do it at a catch weight first.

With a catch weight fight, if Fedor were to win, Strikeforce could set the rematch at 205 for the title.  Henderson was not interested in a catch weight bout, however, refusing to fight Fedor if a catch weight was attached to the highly anticipated bout. Strikeforce gave in and the fight will ultimately be contested at heavyweight. 

But of course, that begs the question: if Fedor were to win, will Strikeforce have the rematch at 205? The answer is not likely. 

A big reason for this is that both fighters are on the last fight of their contract. Zuffa's feelings on Fedor, M-1 and the dealings they have had with them in the past are no secret. With M-1's insistence on co-promoting any event that has Fedor involved, Zuffa will simply not budge. 

With the two losses severely hurting the mystique of what Fedor once brought to the table, Zuffa no longer needs to try to make things work with Fedor—or his sometimes "impossible” management.

Even with a victory, it does very little to raise Fedor's stock within Zuffa. They could simply let Fedor walk away to compete in other promotions, now that there is no prominent No. 2 within the United States—or anywhere else for that matter.

When Zuffa bought Strikeforce the UFC became the NFL of Mixed Martial Arts. They are now showing that they do not need anyone one fighter to make their organization. They have the ability to dump any fighter and act as if he never even existed. 

Win or lose, this will likely mark the last time we see Fedor fight under the Zuffa banner.