I had to watch last night's Strikeforce: Henderson vs Feijao on DVR last night after taking my wife out for a long-overdue night on the town. I admit I sold Dan Henderson very short in the build-up to the fight. His less than stellar performance against Jake Shields seemed burned in my brain, as did Rafael 'Feijao' Cavalcante's fearsome finish of Muhammed Lawal.
I saw the latter live from cage side in Houston and the thuds of Feijao's knees on Mo's forehead still echoed in my brain.
But just as he did in December against my beloved Renato 'Babalu' Sobral, Henderson snuffed any misconceptions I had about him being over the hill. He came back from a dazing overhand right in the first round to immediately put Feijao on his back and take and keep top control. Henderson dominated most of the second and then landed his trademark .50 caliber right hand in the third for the finish.
Strikeforce just may have found themselves a light heavyweight champion who can hold the belt as well as take it. Former champ Gegard Mousasi will face American Kickboxing Academy product Mike Kyle in April for first crack at Henderson's title.
I don't know how long Henderson can reign as an over-40 champ in a young man's game, but in a way he's the perfect kind of fighter to hold the Strikeforce belt. He's clearly still a UFC caliber fighter, but he's also one we know wouldn't be winning any UFC belts if he were to return to Zuffa. That leaves us free from the annoying questions about where Strikeforce champs Gilbert Melendez and Ronaldo 'Jacare' Souza stand in the top ranks of their division.
We know where Henderson stands in the light heavyweight division, in the top 10 but outside the top 5.
As for the rest of the event:
- Women's 135lb champ Marloes Coenen survived a helluva scare against short-notice opponent Liz Carmouche that had me wondering if Carmouche had any finishing tools whatsoever in her arsenal. Coenen does not have that problem and finished Carmouche with a triangle in a performance that showed true championship grit.
- Tim Kennedy got the win he needed to be rehabbed as a contender in Strikeforce's once-stacked middleweight division. Melvin Manhoef falls to 0-2 in Strikeforce and 2-5 overall since September 2008. Not sure they can use Melvin anymore with their limited event schedule.
- Jorge Masvidal exposed Billy Evangelista as not that much of a prospect. Like Lyle Beerbohm, whom Pat Healy exposed at the last Strikeforce Challengers event, Evangelista was an undefeated lightweight Strikeforce was hoping to groom into a title challenger for Gilbert Melendez. Those hopes were dashed and now they've got Masvidal, a man who couldn't even earn a Bellator title shot. Perhaps Masvidal and Pat Healy should fight and the winner could possibly emerge as a somewhat credible contender.
- I was fairly disappointed by the action in the Bellator show, none of the fights were that fun to watch. As I predicted pairing two judo-based fighters in Rick Hawn and Jim Wallhead resulted in a so-so standup battle that only featured one cool trip take down from Hawn. Ref Josh Rosenthal gave Jay Hieron a gift stoppage against an overmatched Anthony Lapsley. Fan favorite Dan Hornbuckle got upset by the unheralded Brent Weedman and Lymon Good rebounded with a grinding win over Chris Lozano.