Hendo Takes Strikeforce Gold

Posted: March 7, 2011 in Marketing, PR, Strikeforce

Photo via Yahoo! Sports

For that didn’t catch the fights this weekend because they don’t have Showtime (like me), you may not realize that Dan Henderson now has a new fight name.  The man known in some promotions as “Dangerous”, “Hollywood” or “Hendo” can simply be called “Champion” in his new home of Strikeforce.  This past Saturday, Henderson KO’d former champion Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante to take the light heavyweight crown.

This is a huge win for Henderson and an even bigger win for Strikeforce. Strikeforce brought Henderson into the fold in early 2010 with the purpose of dethroning middleweight champion Jake Shields as Shields’ Strikeforce contract was coming to a close.  Well, we all know how that fight turned out. About a year later and Hendo stopped perennial Strikeforce challenger Renato “Babalu” Sobral to get a shot at the LHW crown.

For Hendo, it is the first time he can strap gold across his weight in 4 years.  For Strikeforce they know have the “name brand” champion they have been craving in their pick ups of former UFC stars.

My Take: As a fan, I am happy for Henderson.  I’ve always liked him as a fighter.  Strong skills balanced with a class act personality. You hear very little trash talk coming from Henderson.  He prefers to begin and end his discussions in the ring. (Want an example, see his exchanges with Bisping during TUF followed by UFC 100.)  He deserves to wear the title of champion, it is just a bummer that it will be under the Strikeforce banner.  Why? Because of prior marketing mishaps by Strikeforce, I know that the following will happen:

  • Hendo will become Strikeforces’ Randy Couture. Some may think Henderson should be coming toward the end of his career, but in many ways he is starting to pick up speed. You are already seeing the number 40 thrown around in all the articles stating the beginning of his championship round.  Maybe 40 is the new 20, but let’s be honest – Henderson isn’t the first champion to win late in his career – but I’m sure Strikeforce will make it sound like he is.
  • Hendo will become the New Fedor. This is my biggest fear. Henderson is a good name in MMA.  But no one name should be the entire face of a promotion.  There is enough pressure to defend your belt, you don’t need the weight of a company’s survival on your shoulders as well.
  • Hendo will need quality opponents, but won’t be given one. Strikeforce’s LHW division holds some good fighters but in my opinion none that stack up against the caliber of fighter that Henderson is.  The problem that brings is the circus-factor.  There are already articles crying out for Henderson v. Fedor.  That is the worst idea I have ever heard.  If Henderson wins he is defeating an already fallen giant, if Fedor wins it brings 2 problems. 1) His first win in 3 fights will be against a much smaller fighter. (Remember in addition to fighting at LHW, Henderson is also a middleweight.)  2) Should Fedor win, Strikeforce’s new “go-to” player and champion will be defeated by an M-1 fighter they only have a loose connection too.

What do you think? Am I too harsh on Strikeforce?

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Comments
  1. I find it interesting that guys who are extending their careers well past the mma community’s perceived expiration dates have a base in upper echelon wrestling. I don’t know enough about physical fitness training or mma training to expand on that but I wonder if you think there is a connection there?

    I also echo your fears for a matchup against Fedor which could become a disaster for Strikeforce worse than their Shields vs. Hendo matchup. How could that fight yield any long term dividends for their organization?

    I would like Hendo to go “Hollywood” a la Hulk Hogan and spray paint Pride across his belt. However, Dana White would surely put the kabosh on that.

  2. […] too long ago we welcomed Dan Henderson back to the world of championship gold.  Unfortunately, a few of my points look like they may come to fruition this […]

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