Temecula’s Dan Henderson will take on sinewy six-foot-two Brazilian Anderson Silva for the UFC Middleweight title March 1 in Columbus, Ohio. To make weight, Hendo will drop close to 20 pounds to get down to the qualifying benchmark of 185—an “easy cut” according to him. When he began training at Team Quest for the fight, he was at 202-lbs and as of this week is down to 198-lbs. His leaner doppelgänger, so to speak, is en-route.
The beautiful thing about predators like Hendo is that dropping one-eighth of his person to take on a very dangerous opponent is like slipping into something a little more comfortable before a hunt. Even when his prey is every bit as predatorial as he is.
Anderson “The Spider” Silva is all freak and elbows until he gets you in the Thai-clinch, and then he becomes significantly knees. He’s a wiry whirling dervish of backfists with a sniper’s range, a black-belt in ju-jitsu with a gangly coil of limb and fist ready to spring—and if you saw him TKO Rich Franklin in back to back Octobers (’06-’07) then you know why he’s widely considered to be “unbeatable” by MMA sensationalists.
The 37-year-old Hendo is not daunted in the slightest. In fact, he’s right at home at his Team Quest training facility with the rest of his Legion of Doom. He’s used to big fights. His drilling partners at Team Quest are used to him training for big fights. It’s barely mentioned, because everyone knows he’ll bring it. Everyone knows that he’ll stick out that superhuman mandible—which has the unique distinction of jutting out farther than his nose—to tempt Spider into an approach.
No? Take a close look at Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva and that brooding mug of his, the deep-set eyes in which cold murder has no conscience, the thick rubbery brow of a 1920s thug and a punch that contains a supernatural expulsion of force. Wanderlei is considered one of the world’s most dangerous fighters, too. Now see Hendo’s 360-backfist laying waste to that mug, scrambling all the advances of Silva on the mat, and that final devastating left that felled the brute like stunned timber . . . the subsequent confetti shower, and Hendo lying on the mat like Dikembe Mutumbo after upsetting the Sonics savoring the moment.
It will be a very intriguing fight. It’s easy to think that Anderson Silva will win it, having won his last six and Hendo having lost the hard-fought battle with Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, but that’s more of a pendulum response to recent trends than smart.
Report from Team Quest
“Pain is just weakness leaving the body” is the motto over at the gym, and this week head team trainer Ryan Parsons and guest trainer and three-time US Greco-Roman National Champion Darrell Gholar worked control positions from the guard and the half-guard, with Hendo himself giving a demonstration of how to pin an opponent down, using your head as a clamp and your knees as leverage, to expose a wide slab of ribcage to elbow and “punish.” “The elbows are just nasty in here,” Henderson said, delivering a few soft-thuds on Vinny Magalhaes while the others took note. Gholar demonstrated a three-tier takedown move that involved 90-degree rotations of the toe-point, which dumps a vulnerable man to the canvas if carried off properly. Parsons was quick to point out that Gholar was able to perform the trick without effort because he’s so damn bowlegged. “A birth defect,” said Gholar.
And all of this to the sounds of LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out.” Fitting.
Hendo heads to Big Bear.