Dan Henderson is an icon in the sport of mixed martial arts. No one can deny that. Whether you call him “Hollywood,” “Hendo,” “Dangerous,” or some other moniker a marketing person thought up, the bottom line is that Dan is the only MMA fighter ever to hold two world titles in two different weight classes simultaneously. He’s consistently fought the best the sport has to offer, and has names like Michael Bisping, Rich Franklin, Wanderlei Silva, Vitor Belfort, Kazuo Misaki, Murilo Bustamante, Akihiro Gono, Murilo “Ninja” Rua, Renzo Gracie, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Gilbert Yvel, Carlos Newton, and his next opponent, Renato “Babalu” Sobral, amongst his list of victims. His right hand is legendary, as is his will to excel. Henderson is a fight legend.
Now forty years old, he’s shown no signs of slowing down. So what’s next for him? A main event with the aforementioned Babalu, which till take place on Saturday, December 4th, at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Missouri. “STRIKEFORCE: Henderson vs. Babalu” will light up the SHOWTIME® screen, and will surely electrify fights fans across the world. I sat down with the former Pride champion to talk with him about his status in the fight game, as well as his future.
Phil Lanides: This will be your first fight since April. Were you waiting on a CBS card for your next fight?
Dan Henderson: Not specifically. That was in mind, but I just wanted to get back in there. A couple months went by, and I’ve always said that I’m happy to fight on CBS or Showtime. The fact that Strikeforce isn’t just on pay per view keeps their viewing potential from being limited. I am excited to fight on either CBS or Showtime and be involved. Regardless of whether my next fight was going to be on CBS or Showtime, I am pretty sure Babalu would have been my opponent, regardless.
PL: Do you feel a sense of urgency at this stage of your career? Does the thought of “I have this many years left, I want to get this done before I retire” come into play?
DH: Obviously, at this age that is a concern. If I have some goals in this sport, I can’t take my time getting there. But when I’m in shape…I don’t want to spend a lot of time getting back into shape. I’d like to stay in shape, fight every three or four months for awhile, and then take a couple months off to enjoy some things with my kids and family. Then I can get back in there again and do it all over again. That’s the tough thing about our sport, is that our season is year-round. It would be nice to have a schedule laid out ahead of time, knowing when I’m going to fight 6-8 months ahead of time so that I can adjust my schedule accordingly. It’s tough to make vacation plans like that.
PL: Let’s move onto your next fight. You and Babalu have fought before, when you defeated him via decision. That was ten years ago. Does that enter into this fight at all?
DH: No, because I’m a different guy and he’s a different guy now. It’s almost like it’s not even a rematch. It was in a different organization, and with different rules. No punches to the head on the floor, and they stand you up very quickly, too. It really makes it a different fight.
PL: How does the Strikeforce light heavyweight division shape up to you?
DH: There are a lot of tough fights at 205, and Babalu is one of them. That one will be very exciting, and there’s no sense in talking about what’s beyond that.
PL: Is the belt something that’s on your mind?
DH: Of course. Always. Not to have the thing around my waist or have it at my house, but just to be the best. That should be every fighter’s goal, and most of the time it is. It’s certainly my goal.