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Does Hendo Deserve Title Shot?

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It was reported by MMAfighting.com that a Dan Henderson vs. Rafael Cavalcante fight for the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight title is being planned for March.  Henderson would be making just his second appearance in the division if the fight happens.  It’s understandable why Henderson is getting the title shot considering who else is in that weight class for Strikeforce.  In a division that is home to Abongo Humphrey, Muhammed Lawal, Gegard Mousasi & Trevor Prangley, (all former Strikeforce champions except for Humphrey) it’s an easier sell to the fans with Henderson.

Henderson has gone 4 – 1 over his last five fights

With victories over Rousimar Palhares, Rich Franklin & Michael Bisping before the expiration of his UFC contract, Henderson was rudely welcomed to Strikeforce by current UFC #1 welterweight contender, Jake Shields.  He rebounded by jumping to light heavyweight and dominating Sobral with a KO in the 1st round.  With just one fight in the division, does he deserve to get a shot?

When you’ve gone 26 – 8 in your career, and held numerous world titles including the PRIDE Welterweight & Middleweight titles, you can have whatever title shot you want.  When you’ve beaten the men he has in his career, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Wanderlei Silva (twice), Vitor Belfort & Akihiro Gono, just to name a few, he can have whatever title shot he wants.

Why not give the title shot to established light heavyweights?

In a division that is reeling and hurting for tops stars, the ability to put Henderson’s name on the card had to have been a big factor in giving Hendo the fight.  But why wouldn’t Strikeforce give Lawal or Mousasi another shot at the gold?  Only Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker can attest to why Henderson get’s the edge, but here’s an idea why.

Last August, Lawal was defeated by Cavalcante by TKO in the 3rd round and Lawal hasn’t fought since then.  He didn’t look impressive during the title fight, so an immediate rematch wasn’t necessary.  He may need to win a few fights to get back into contention.  The man Lawal defeated, Mousasi, has gone 2 – 0 since losing the title, with victories over Jake O’Brien & Tatsuya Mizuno.  He looked impressive in both fights winning by tap out and his victory over Mizuno won him the DREAM light heavyweight title.

A battle between Mousasi and Cavalcante could be entertaining, but with the lack of depth in Strikeforce, it’s hard to blame the company for putting one of its biggest names in the title hunt.  It would be in Strikeforce’s best interest to put Mousasi in the next title fight sometime in 2011, especially if Henderson were to win the title.  The idea of a potential showdown between Mousasi & Henderson is probably making Coker salivate as I presently type.


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