Report from Team Quest
Dan Henderson continues to train out of Tito Ortiz’s compound in Big Bear Lake with a short list of world-class fighters as he prepares for his March 1 title fight with Anderson “The Spider” Silva. One of those is Rameau Thierry “Terry” Sokoudjou, the same who needed only 23 seconds to floor Antônio Rogério Nogueira about this time last year in Las Vegas, the very same Nogueira who beat Henderson not long before that. If that weren’t enough, Rogério’s twin brother, the fabled Minotauro Nogueira, is training with the Spider himself out in Rio de Janeiro as they Countdown to Hendo. It’s not exactly Us against Them, but that Brazilian enclave and this Temecula one have a storied history together through Pride and now UFC, and are two of the best in the world.
Head team trainer/nutritionist Ryan Parsons had Hendo doing footwork in the morning, and practicing jiu-jitsu with Terry and the tall Silva clone, Cyrille Diabate, at night. Diabate has a long wingspan and is a precision striker, which is a nutshell of what Spider, arguably the best pound-for-pound fighter in the Middleweight ranks, happens to be.
Also on hand were Parisian Xavier “Professor X” Foupa Pokam, big Pete Graham, Gregory “Blade” Babene, Vinicius “Vinny” Magalhaes and Chris Wilson, the latter of whom is scheduled to take on Jon Fitch as part of the undercard in Columbus. The three-time BJJ world champion Vinny grappled with Hendo a few sessions, and each man pretzeled the other’s legs so that the yellows of their feet were jutting skyward from the tangle. These grappling sessions are hotly contested and it’s a bit like watching contortionists train, but everything’s hypothetical, as whatever’s effectively pulled off (like a specific pass) is re-examined in slow-motion detail shortly thereafter. “How did you have your elbow” or “what was that you did to my side” are the types of queries that crop up after the fighters unfurl. It’s no secret that Vinny is a good reason why Henderson becomes Houdini against most submission attempts. No doubt Heath Sims plays a role in that, as well.
Guest trainer Darrell Gholar’s famous battle cries of “get your money” and “nothing but spit and vinegar” and “dance, dance, dance, five seconds until you get paid” echoed throughout the gym as the fighters engaged. Gholar trained Nogueira for his fight with Henderson, and has lived with Spider in Brazil. When asked how Spider’s training is coming along, he said, “why, what do you know?” I know that it’s Us against Them.
Henderson weighed himself on the ringside scale and came in just a shade over 197-lbs. He has to get down to 185-lbs for his Middleweight bout with Silva. But according to Parsons, weight is not an issue so much as eating right. “Vegetable juices, smoothies, oatmeal, hemp seeds, essential oils, just a good diet” Ever the gentleman, Parsons was kind enough to try and finish off the ice cream so that Dan would not be tempted, leaving only a bag of carrots, some potatoes and what appeared to be bird seed . . . Team Quest’s Chris Wilson, from the Portland chapter, is essentially the resident cook at the compound . . . Wilson looks in great shape for his fight with Fitch . . . watching Vinny Magalhaes work the heavy bag is like witnessing a man on a crime spree, as the depressions he leaves in its side is enough to make any man in rib-sore at the very thought . . . what do UFC fighters watch on television? TLC and police chases.
Last week of training in Big Bear, Media Day, and a warrior’s game-face.