Pride on line for champ

JOSE RODRIGUEZ

, Last Updated: 12:03 PM ET

No doubt Dan Henderson will come in like a lion when he enters the Octagon March 1. The trick will be not to go out like a lamb.

The Pride champ will take on UFC middleweight belt holder Anderson "Spider" Silva at UFC 82 in a unification tilt. The gangly Silva is considered by many pundits the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world for his highlight-reel knees and knockouts.

Henderson (22-6) knows he's in for a battle, but the wrestler says his strength in the clinch and his iron chin will be keys in carrying him to victory.

"I wouldn't say it's a perfect matchup. The guy knows how to fight pretty well, so it's not that perfect," says Henderson, who at 37 has yet to be knocked out in a fight. But I've got some good power and I've been in there against some pretty tough strikers before."

Henderson, who represented the U.S. as a Greco Roman wrestler at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics, has chalked up an impressive MMA resume, most of it overseas fighting for Pride. He's only been beaten by submission twice -- each Nogueira twin holds a part of that honour. They also happen to be Silva's Brazilian jiu-jitsu coaches.

Henderson is hopeful the five-round tilt doesn't end up in the hands of the judges.

The 32-year-old Silva, who has a pro record of 22-4, says he has nothing but respect for his California rival.

"Dan Henderson is one of the greatest fighters on Earth," says Silva through an interpreter. "He's proven that with many fights with many great guys. It's going to be an honour to fight him."

Silva says he has no intentions of changing his game plan for the grappler.

"I'm going to continue doing what I do best, which is Muay Thai, even though I've been training a lot of jiu-jitsu. But I will maintain my Muay Thai because that's what got me to where I am," he says.

UGLY BATTLE

The battle for Randy Couture is about to get even uglier. Sherdog.com is reporting Couture has signed a contract with billionaire Mark Cuban's HDNet Fights. With Couture contending his commitment to UFC is over in October, this may set the stage for a Couture/Fedor Emelianenko fight in late fall.

BIG DEAL FOR YAHOO!

The UFC and Yahoo! Sports have signed a deal that will make Yahoo! the official distributor of pay-per-views on the Internet. The deal starts with next weekend's UFC 82.

VERA VS. WERDRUM

Reports say Fabricio Werdum will take on Brandon Vera at UFC 85 in London on June 14. Chuck "The Iceman" Liddell will also take on Mauricio "Shogun" Rua.

$175,000 SLICE

Kevin "Kimbo Slice" Ferguson made $175,000 with his first-round knockout of David "Tank" Abbott in EliteXC's Street Certified. Abbott took home $126,000.

COLEMAN A HALLUVA GUY

The UFC will induct its fifth hall-of-famer at Ohio's UFC 81. Mark Coleman, UFC's first heavyweight champ, will join Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn and Couture as a member of MMA's most exclusive club.


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