DAN HENDERSON’s big gamble

September 5, 2007

At UFC 75 this Saturday in London, England, “Dangerous” DAN HENDERSON will enter the octagon cage taking a huge gamble.  HENDERSON is the third high profile superstar to make the transition from PRIDE FC’s boxing-style ring into the UFC’s octagon cage.  HENDERSON’s debut fight this Saturday in the UFC octagon is for the UFC light heavyweight championship against a very confident champion and close buddy, QUINTON “RAMPAGE” JACKSON.  The previous two superstars to join the UFC from PRIDE were JACKSON and MIRKO “CRO COP” FILIPOVIC.  Both fighters’ UFC debuts were a bit uneasy, suggesting some discomfort and unfamiliarity with a cage as opposed to the boxing-style ring that made them the mega-stars they are today.

JACKSON’s debut inside the octagon vs. MARVIN EASTMAN, a hard nosed fighter who had defeated JACKSON in in 2000, was far from Rampage-ish.  Very tentative and nervous, JACKSON wound up knocking out EASTMAN in the 2nd round but not before UFC president DANA WHITE sweat out a ton of bullets.  JACKSON later admitted to being “the most nervous” he has ever been.  MIRKO CRO COP’s debut went far better against an over matched EDDIE SANCHEZ.  SANCHEZ, though, is a far less proven fighter than EASTMAN.  CRO COP’s 2nd fight didn’t go well at all, as he was KO’ed in devastating fashion by GABRIEL GONZAGA.  Again, some questions linger about his lack of experience inside a cage as opposed to a ring.

See where I’m going with this?   HENDERSON is a tremendous talent and his aggressive style is very difficult to handle for most fighters.  Is he ready for his first fight in the octagon cage in 9 years?  Is it smart to take on a high caliber champion like JACKSON as your debut fight inside the octagon cage – a forum unfamiliar to HENDERSON since 1998?  Why take on a fight for a championship as your very first fight inside the UFC cage in a long time?  Will there be cage rust?

A warm up fight would have been the safer choice, but then again when it comes to HENDERSON’s vocabulary, the word “SAFE” does not exist.