Thursday, March 3, 2011 | 2:05 a.m.
Strikeforce: Feijao vs. Henderson Main Card
- Light Heavyweight Championship Bout: Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante vs. Dan Henderson
- Women's Welterweight Championship Bout: Marloes Coenen vs. Liz Carmouche
- Middleweight Bout: Tim Kennedy vs. Melvin Manhoef
- Lightweight Bout: Billy Evangelista vs. Jorge Masvidal
- Televised card on Showtime airs on tape delay at 10 Saturday night
An adrenaline overload will course through Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante’s body as he walks to the cage for his first defense of the Strikeforce light heavyweight title Saturday night.
His challenger, 40-year old MMA veteran Dan Henderson, plans to keep his emotions more under control. At this point of his career, there’s not much that can overwhelm Henderson.
“I could be fighting in a gymnasium with no fans and still be able to get pumped up and excited for the fight,” Henderson said.
The Main Event of Strikeforce’s Saturday card in Columbus, Ohio, is Henderson’s sixth championship bout in a major organization. That doesn’t include his three separate tournament championships, including a middleweight title at UFC 17 in 1998.
Henderson held PRIDE belts in both the welterweight and middleweight divisions before UFC acquired the Japanese promotion. He went on to receive two title shots in the UFC and was possibly on the verge of a third after knocking out Michael Bisping at UFC 100 in June 2009.
But Henderson bolted from UFC and signed a contract with Strikeforce. It took only one tune-up in the light heavyweight class, a first-round knockout of Renato Sobral, before Strikeforce scheduled Henderson’s showdown with Feijao.
“I was very excited when I knew I was going to fight someone like Dan Henderson,” Feijao said through a translator. “Knowing what he’s done in his career, I’m very interested in testing myself against the best fighters in the world and the biggest names.”
Feijao could have an advantage because of his training at Black House. Three of Henderson’s eight career losses have come to Feijao’s training partners — Antonio Rodrgio Nogueria, Antonio Rogerio Nogueira and Anderson Silva.
Feijao said the Nogueira brothers and Silva provided plenty of tips as far as what to expect in the fight. That doesn’t bother Henderson, either.
“I feel like I’m a better fighter than when I fought them, but I’m not fighting them this time,” Henderson said. “Feijao is a different fighter.”
Henderson says his top priority isn’t winning belts anymore and that championships are merely “icing on the cake.” He just wants to fight because it’s what he loves doing.
As a 14-year professional, Henderson had mixed martial arts bouts before Feijao even started training. Many figured Henderson’s stint with Strikeforce would serve as his last run before retirement, but those thoughts appear far from his mind.
“I have no plans to stop fighting if that answers your question,” Henderson said. “My body still feels good. As long as I can still compete with the top guys, I’m going to stay in the sport.”