At 39 years old and with lots of mileage on him, Dan Henderson is the definition of a "grizzled veteran." The former Pride champ in two weight classes has fought a virtual who's who of MMA royalty over the years. Henderson is riding a two fight win streak, including a picturesque knockout of Michael Bisping in his last UFC fight. Henderson has had about a 9 month layoff but the truth is that the time away might have been well spent. At his age in this sport, ample time to prepare is key. I'm thinking that Henderson will want to use his wrestling in reverse early on in this fight, opting to stand and test Shields out on the feet. Dan has some fairly heavy hands and can put fighters away with his standup or ground and pound. I'm thinking that the early rounds in this one could be interesting. Dan sports a professional record of 25-7 with 11 of those wins coming by way of knockout and 1 win coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage is just over 71%.
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To lend some perspective to the run that Jake Shields has been on, consider this: It has been over half a decade since the guy has lost a fight. Despite that fact, the oddsmakers will likely favor Henderson in this matchup. Whereas Henderson has long competed at both light heavyweight and middleweight, Shields is really a welterweight that is competing a weight class higher than perhaps he should be. Still, any middleweight in the world would do well to take Shields seriously. He has won both of his first two matchups in the division and is stepping it up big-time by taking on one of the world's preeminent talents in the division. Most fighters never come close to headlining a card, much less one broadcast on network television. To get this win and retain his middleweight title, Shields will likely need to catch Henderson in a submission during a transition on mat. Jake Shields has a professional record of 24-4-1 with 3 wins coming by way of knockout and 10 wins coming by way of submission. The combined career winning percentage of the opponents that he has faced thus far is 65.8%.
Henderson is a crowd favorite and his signing was a significant move for Strikeforce. He is a durable fighter that has a knack for find a way to win. Personally, I view this as a low risk fight for Shields. Most casual fans know Henderson to be an elite fighter and, given the fact that Jake is fighting an entire weight class above his natural fighting weight, I don't think he risks much in this matchup. He will likely be an attractive addition to any organization's welterweight roster, win or lose in this fight. Ultimately, I see Dan being able to dictate the action and my best guess is that he takes this one by decision after outworking Shields in the clinch and outpositioning him enough on the ground to score with some ground and pound for the TKO in round 3.