Dan Henderson has been around the world and back during his illustrious MMA career. The 39-year-old will once again be looking for a new start this weekend when he makes his Strikeforce debut and challenges middleweight king Jake Shields for his crown.
In December, Henderson shunned the UFC for the smaller promotion after his devastating knockout win over Michael Bisping at UFC 100. While everybody thought he had lost his mind, Hendo never felt the need to justify his groundbreaking move.
“I never really felt like I had to defend it at all. It was a good decision for me and that was all there was to it,” Henderson told 5thRound.com of his free agent signing. “I’m sure that [UFC president] Dana White wasn’t happy that I left and would’ve much rather had me over there, but he didn’t value me like I did and like Strikeforce did.”
Henderson owns a dominant 25-7 professional record and as one of the sport’s pioneers, is among the few athletes that can literally say that he’s seen the best and worst of what MMA has to offer. Despite bouncing from the planet’s premier mixed martial arts organization, the veteran finally believes he’s hit the big time.
“It’s a whole different thing with CBS on board, this is mainstream now,” Henderson said of comparing his two most recent employers. “Before, the UFC had a model where they would promote their pay-per-views … They have a Countdown show, they kinda give you a little bit of background on the guys, but it’s mostly about the UFC.
“I’m excited to be a part of CBS, to see what they have. It’s a little bit early in the process. The promotion is just now getting rolling, so we’ll see what happens.”
Hendo is the only man to simultaneously hold two major MMA titles, PrideFC’s 185 and 205-pound crowns, so his tweener status has him in the hunt for not only Shields’ belt, but Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Gegard Mousasi’s strap as well.
“I definitely need to beat Jake before anything else can really be talked about,” Henderson said of staying in the moment. “I think Jake’s had a couple of big wins lately and he’s dangerous, so it’s definitely a matchup that excites me and gets me motivated to train hard. It’ll be a challenge.”
Henderson and Shields will headline the trio of three championship bouts inside the Bridgestone Arena in Tennessee. “Strikeforce: Nashville” kicks off this Saturday night on CBS at 9PM ET/PT.
Watch Dan Henderson’s exclusive interview with 5thRound.com and hear what he had to say about his past, present and future: