Report from Team Quest
As UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva’s spidery silhouette begins to appear on the horizon, contender Dan Henderson and a small faction of Team Quest’s finest took to Big Bear this week to harness the three toods—altitude, solitude and attitude. Training out of Oscar de la Hoya’s old gym (now Tito Ortiz’s), the clean-shaven Hendo had first to dig out his truck from the snowfall, second to eat oatmeal while those around him on less-constrictive diets had thick-slab bacon, and third endure the flatulence of former Olympic silver medallist-turned-UFC Middleweight contender Matt Lindland (9-3)—the latter of which made Anderson Silva seem like a triviality by comparison.
“It smells like burnt tires,” Hendo’s trainer Darrell Gholar said, half impressed. Hendo will be training twice a day for the next couple of weeks to get down to weight (185 pounds).
Lindland, along with Chris Wilson who picked up a fight against Jon Fitch on the same UFC 82 card in Columbus, comes from the Portland-based Team Quest gym. Lindland was working the ground-and-pound techniques with Hendo, wrist-control, passing mounts, submissions, and other leverage-gaining positions from which to punish. They also brought in tall Spider emulations, wiry hard-hitting lefties such as Gregory “Blade” Babene, getting Hendo used to fighting against a southpaw. The lanky Frenchman Cyrille Diabate worked stand-up technique with Hendo, encouraging Dan to cut off the ring and deliver punch-kick combinations. One important aspect of training at the Big Bear location is that the Ortiz gym has an octagon, which the former Pride champion Hendo isn’t as used to. Nevertheless, he looks comfortable.
Conventional wisdom would say that the 37-year-old Hendo stands a better chance taking this fight to the ground, but Silva is vastly improved on the mat than he was back in his Pride days. Everyone knows Spider can strike, that he’s a springy helix of presumably flailing but actually precision limbs, but this fight is interesting because it boils down to the imposition of wills, which are not exclusively interchangeable with styles . . . standing and banging, working from the clinch, or on the ground, doesn’t matter to Hendo . . . most of the fighters watched a grainy DVD of Muy Thai fights from Thailand’s channel 3 before training, and head trainer Ryan Parsons found a nugget worthy of Hendo’s attention when one of the fighters pulled the other’s arm down from the clinch and delivered an elbow on a lightning rod to his chops to knock him out . . . they rewound that three times . . . there are two murals of Oscar de la Hoya standing over the UFC warriors in the gym . . . kicking ass is almost the same as grabbing a beer between fighters . . . Darrell Gholar actually trained Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira for one of his fights against Henderson, and lived with Spider in Brazil not too awful long ago. “He’s a nice guy,” says Gholar . . . right, now sick him, Hendo.
Hendo zeroes in from Big Bear.