Strikeforce Henderson vs. Fedor: Power Ranking Dan Henderson's Top Five Wins
Dan Henderson can further cement his legacy as one of the greatest of all time by defeating Fedor Emelianenko on July 30.
This marks the first time Henderson has fought at heavyweight in nearly nine years, and he says that he did not even consider having this fight at a catch weight.
With a victory here, Henderson will likely be the man who sends "The Last Emperor" into retirement after a decade of dominance within the heavyweight division.
Going into Saturday night, what fights have truly defined Dan Henderson's career up to this point?
Let's take a look at some of the biggest wins in Dan Henderson's illustrious 14 year career.
5. Renato Sobral – February 2000
Even though this fight took place in the year 2000, it was the finals of the 1999 RINGS King of Kings tournament.
This was a classic tournament format, in the sense that this would be the third fight of the evening for both competitors.
Henderson notched quality wins over Gilbert Yvel and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, while Sobral was coming off consecutive victories over Mikhail Illoukhine and Kiyoshi Tamura.
In a tightly contested bout, Henderson’s superior boxing was the difference against the highly regarded grappler, as Hendo came away with the majority decision victory.
This was actually the third tournament in a row Henderson won in his early career (after the Brazil 1997 Lightweight Tournament and the UFC 17 middleweight tournament), but this really established Henderson as a true force in the sport.
4. Murilo Bustamante – December 2005
Henderson once again saw himself in a tournament final on New Year’s Eve of 2005. This time, Hendo was competing for the Pride welterweight championship.
Worth noting is that Pride’s welterweight limit was 183 pounds.
The former Olympic level wrestler showcased his knockout power in this tournament, knocking out Ryo Chonan and Akihiro Gono in the quarterfinals and semifinals respectively.
Bustamante, a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt under Carlson Gracie, came into the fight with a record of 9-2-1, and boasted eight finishes.
In a very competitive bout, Henderson’s wrestling and boxing was enough to outlast the hard hitting submission specialist, and Hendo became a champion in yet another weight class.
Bustamante’s performance surprised a lot of folks, as this was his second meeting with Henderson.
He was knocked out by Hendo in less than a minute of their first fight in 2003.
3. Wanderlei Silva – February 2007
Some may say that Silva’s days as an elite fighter were over at this point, but the bruising Brazilian fighter had held the Pride middleweight title for over six years at this point.
In what proved to be a highly entertaining bout, Henderson ending up knocking out Silva when he landed a left hook in the third round.
While Henderson received a ton of credit for winning his first championship at 205 pounds, many argued that Silva wasn’t at his best since this fight was under unified rules.
This meant that knees and kicks to the head of a downed opponent were not permitted, and also that the fight would be five rounds, at five minutes.
2. Michael Bisping – July 2009
Henderson coached Team US on season nine of “The Ultimate Fighter,” while Michael Bisping led Team UK on the same season.
“The Count” did his best to get under Hendo’s skin throughout the course of the show, which made the UFC 100 bout a heavily anticipated one.
The first round saw Bisping come up short on several boxing exchanges, and his willingness to stand and trade with Henderson proved to be his downfall.
In the second round, Hendo drilled Bisping with a patented “H-Bomb,” a hard hitting right hook that immediately sent The Count down to the mat.
Although his foe was immediately unconscious, Henderson hit a diving punch on his fallen opponent, later stating “that one was just to shut him up a little bit.”
Henderson not only received Knockout of the Night honors for this win, but also Knockout of the Year awards from World MMA, Inside Fights, and FIGHT! Magazine.
1. Rafael Cavalcante – March 2011
At 40 years old, few gave Dan Henderson a real shot at succeeding in Strikeforce after getting soundly defeated by Jake Shields at middleweight.
This was a huge upset, as Shields was expected to be soundly dominated by Henderson.
Would a move up to light heavyweight really add new life to Henderson’s waning career?
The answer remained ambiguous after “Dangerous Dan” knocked out an old rival in Renato Sobral, but many critics wrote off Sobral as a legitimate threat by the time of their December 2010 fight.
Nevertheless, Henderson was awarded a shot at the Strikeforce light heavyweight title for his efforts.
Then reigning champion Rafael Cavalcante was on a three fight win steak, and had come out victorious in six of his last seven fights.
Cavalcante was expected to be able to hang with Henderson’s KO power, with nine of his 10 professional wins coming by way of knockout.
For a while, this was the case. Through two rounds the judges had the score tied 19-19.
However, late in the third round, Cavalcante was on the receiving end of an H-Bomb, and lost his title after Henderson finished him off with some ground and pound.
This is the biggest victory of Henderson’s career since he showed he still has elite fighting skills at 40 years old, a rare sight to see in the sport.