If there’s one thing iconic Mixed Martial Artist Dan Henderson wants to make clear about his December 4th match-up with Renato “Babalu” Sobral, it seems to be letting people know they shouldn’t expect the same fighter who fell to former Strikeforce middleweight champ Jake Shields this past April.
As fans likely remember, Henderson started out incredibly strong against Shields and nearly finished him in the first before fading in the following frame and being out-grappled for the remainder of the five-round bout. The double-divisional PRIDE champion recently spoke with media about his upcoming fight and offered his thoughts on the Shields loss, why he prefers to compete at 205-pounds, and how he views Sobral as an opponent.
“It’s hard to say for sure, but knowing the condition I was in, I just didn’t have the energy I should have had,” Henderson said when asked to assess the decision-based defeat. “Halfway through the first round I was so tired and with my conditioning there is no reason I was so tired.”
“I had other things going on in that fight that affected me and my weight cut,” he continued. Though the Olympic-level wrestler didn’t elaborate on specifics, he did state, “I have always been one to focus on the positives. I try to put the negatives out of my mind. It’s tough to do and I felt I could still pull through and handle the fight just fine but I kind of got a little tired in the process. It’s the way it goes sometimes. I tried to pull through and I learned from mistakes, but it won’t happen in the future. I have been focused on making sure my body feels good for this fight.”
On the subject of fighting at 185 pounds, as he did against Shields, Henderson went on express his preference of stepping into the cage a weight-class higher, saying, “I have always felt comfortable at 205. I have never felt weak or out-powered. I can eat a good meal the night before the fight. It means it’s one less thing I need to worry about before the fight. I am hanging out at 203, 204. I don’t think the age is an issue, just trying to get smarter with my training and making sure I am really listening to my body and getting enough rest. “
The Team Quest patriarch also implied he didn’t envision a similar outcome to the one offered in the losing performance, if for no other reason beyond his comfort at light heavyweight, the pairing of styles this time around.
“’Babalu’ is not close to the same style as (Shields),” the Californian began. “He has an exciting style and he is well-rounded. He has not had a problem standing up and trading punches. He throws a lot of kicks and obviously submits a lot of guys here and there but they are two totally different styles as far as I am concerned.”
As the topic turned to his forthcoming foe, Henderson was asked about his interest in facing Sobral after having already beaten him a decade ago in Japan.
“Excitement value. It will not be a boring fight. I am in this to perform well and I want to make sure it is exciting for the fans and to bring new fans to the sport. I did not do that in my last fight so I want to make sure this one is exciting.”
Another characteristic of the bout Henderson found appealing was in relation to how his skill-set matches up with the Brazilian’s. When asked to explain why he felt he would win, Henderson replied, “Because I believe in myself and that I am a better fighter. I am going to be ready to go, and conditioning should be all there. There is no reason in my mind why I should lose. I feel like I am as good as a grappler as Babalu, and I feel like I am a lot more dangerous on my feet and I just feel confident everywhere.“
Henderson is 25-8 in his career with ten TKO wins to his credit. In addition to Sobral, he has beaten the likes of Michael Bisping, Wanderlei Silva, Rich Franklin, and heavyweight Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira.
In addition to his headlining fight with “Babalu”, Strikeforce’s December 4th also features a match-up between middleweights Robbie Lawler and Matt Lindland, as well as surefire edge-of-your-seat material coming by way of British striker Paul Daley throwing down against fearless, hard-hitting Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith. Former NFL and college football star Herschel Walker will also return to the ring at the show. The card can be seen live on Showtime starting at 10:00 PM EST.