Hendo looks for redemption

NEIL SPRINGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:43 PM ET

It goes without saying that Dan (Hendo) Henderson’s Strikeforce debut didn’t go according to plan.

The two-time PRIDE champion, UFC tournament winner and former Olympian entered the fight organization hot off a nasty knockout victory over Michael (The Count) Bisping at UFC 100. With so many accomplishments to his name, many expected Henderson (25-8) to steamroll Jake Shields en route to capturing the Strikeforce middleweight championship at Strikeforce: Nashville this past April.

Following a strong start to the first round that saw Henderson unload on Shields (26-4-1) with big punches, the MMA legend appeared tired and was dominated en route to dropping a unanimous decision.

Though Henderson didn’t say exactly why everything fell apart within the first five minutes, he later admitted on MMAWeekly Radio (http://mmaweekly.com/dan-henderson-discloses-it-was-medication-that-caused-his-weight-cutting-struggles) that prescription medication interfered with his cut to middleweight (185 pounds).

“I felt my conditioning was great for that fight, but it didn’t show,” Henderson said on a Strikeforce conference call. “I had some other issues going on that really didn’t help me out a lot. It made the weight cut real tough.

“Half-way through the first round, I was really tired. There’s no reason I should have been that tired with my conditioning the way it was.”

Henderson looks bounce back from the defeat against Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt Renato (Babalu) Sobral at Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu on Sat., Dec. 4 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Miss. The event will air live on Showtime in the U.S. and Super Channel in Canada.

Henderson, who will be facing Sobral (36-8) at 205 pounds, said he’s in top shape for the bout.

“I’m feeling great for this fight; my body’s feeling great,” Henderson said. “I’ve got no issues going on at all and I’m really looking forward to fighting.

“I’ve always felt comfortable; I’ve never felt weak or overpowered at 205 pounds. The biggest thing that I’ve noticed is that I can eat a good meal a couple days before the fight. In that regard, it’s a little more enjoyable for me. It’s one less thing I have to worry about -- weight cutting. So I’m just hanging out right about 203, 204 and feeling great.”

The two originally met over a decade ago in the finals of the 1999 Rings King of Kings tournament in Tokyo, Japan on Feb. 26, 2000. On that day, Henderson walked away with a majority decision victory.

Sobral said revenge is the last thing on his mind going into the rematch.

“This is not about revenge, just an exciting matchup,” Sobral said. “It’s a great fight for the fans.

“My conditioning training has changed a lot, and I have a lot of different professionals that work with me. I was more amateur then, a young guy. I am totally different today because of all the stuff that I have learned over the past years. I train well and make fewer mistakes while training.”

Though he just celebrated his 40th birthday in August, Henderson said that win or lose, he has no plans of quitting mixed martial arts.

“I don’t think age is as much of an issue as just getting smarter with my training over the years and making sure I’m listening to my body, taking care of myself and getting enough rest,” Henderson said. “I’ve been wrestling since I was five years old and when I was competing in wrestling my body felt a lot worse than it does now. I don’t really focus on that. I’m doing okay and my body’s feeling good. So I can still enjoy my job.

“I feel like I’m out there to win. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way, but I don’t feel like it’s a do-or-die situation. I’m not going to retire if it doesn’t go my way this time. I feel very confident in my training for this fight.”


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