Photo by Dave Mandel for Sherdog
Strikeforce looks like they are going to avoid making the same mistakes with Dan Henderson that they've made with Fedor Emelianenko. While Emelianenko made his Strikeforce debut against an overmatched Brett Rogers, Strikeforce booked Henderson as their hired assassin against then-middleweight-champ Jake Shields. And with last night's blitzkrieg over Renato Sobral, it looks like Scott Coker and company will turn around and offer Henderson a shot at light heavyweight gold. From Josh Gross at ESPN:
It was the kind of performance that prompted Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker to offer Henderson one of the most expensive contracts his organization has paid a fighter. And it was the type of result that emboldened Coker with the feeling that as his organization evolves from a "building-block year" into "phase 2," that Henderson will be one of the men leading the action.
That could happen as soon as March, assuming Henderson is healthy enough. He departed the cage with soreness to the middle finger of his right hand, and where the thumb attaches to his granite fist. Henderson seemed unfazed by either and plans to "go after it pretty hard" in his Temecula, Calif., gym after the holidays. His deal with Strikeforce calls for two more bouts by June, and Coker is willing to oblige, telling ESPN.com that he plans on offering current Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante a bout against Henderson for March.
A meeting with Cavalcante would mark six title fights in as many years for Henderson, who held the middleweight (205 pounds) and welterweight (183 pounds) titles when Pride collapsed in 2007. Henderson would then enter the UFC and challenge champions Anderson Silva and Quinton Jackson in back-to-back appearances.
Strikeforce gave themselves no other option here. The company is paying Henderson, who made $250,000 in disclosed money in his last fight for the UFC, too much money to keep him out of marquee fights.
It will be interesting to see how Scott Coker situates the next contender. Gegard Mousasi has already fought "King" Mo Lawal and "Babalu" Sobral within the last two years. Babalu already played the friendship card in turning down a fight with Mo. Mike Kyle figures to fight one of the aforementioned three, but there's not much depth in the division past those names.