The Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Ill., just outside of Chicago, will play host to one of the most intriguing matchups in recent memory when Fedor Emelianenko meets Dan Henderson on Saturday in the Strikeforce/M-1 Global “Fedor vs. Henderson” main event. The fight has the MMA world abuzz.
Will Emelianenko’s size be too much for the American to handle, or will Henderson’s grenade of a right hand serve as the great equalizer yet again? Those questions will soon be answered.
Sherdog.com recently touched base with dozens of professional trainers and fighters to gauge their opinions on the “Fedor vs. Henderson” headliner:
Tyron Woodley: I think Henderson's going to win. I don't know why but I have a feeling. Fedor's coming off two losses ... I think he's an amazing fighter, definitely earned the spot for the amount of years that he had it. But I feel that Dan just has that swagger right now. He's knocked a couple of guys out and he's feeling good. He's healthy, been having great camps and I think that he's just going to go out there and have fun. I think there' going to be too much anxiety for Fedor. I think Dan's going to go out there loose and have fun and I think that he's going to beat him.
Robin Black: Henderson will win because Fedor being an unstoppable monster is kind of a myth, like the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy. I shouldn’t say that because I got email death threats for that before -- I’m not kidding -- but it’s true. Having said that, the man had a great career and will quite rightly be remembered as an important figure in MMA history.
Tito Ortiz: If Fedor comes in really, really good shape at 220, Hendo has some problems on his hands. It comes down to who you’re sparing with. Who you’re sparring with and who you’re wrestling with, and what type of work you’re putting into it … of course both the guys are a little bit older … Hendo; you can never count him out. (Editor’s note: Ortiz made no final prediction.)
Shonie Carter: This is an epic battle between two giants in MMA. I have experience with both of these gentlemen. Once I rolled with Dan back before this stuff was sexy. It was a long time ago in Russia when it was suggested strongly to me by the Russians to fight, replacing a training partner who didn’t get his visa in time for M-1. Of course, I accepted. I had the opportunity to train with Red Devil [Sport Club] fight team in St. Petersburg for a middleweight grand prix. This is when I tussled with a Russian bear, by the way, if you were curious. Anyways, I see this bout going in favor of Fedor because of his size. Experience is equal, so size plays the X-factor in the match. Dan’s right hand won’t be a factor. Fedor knows to move away from the right hand by moving right or negating the right cross by using the double jab.
Keith Berry: I’m a huge fan of both of these guys. I wish they both could win, but I don’t know; this is a really tough fight to call. “Hendo” has a ton of momentum. I think he will come in and win by TKO, and Fedor will probably then retire. It should be an awesome fight. Gives me butterflies just thinking about it.
Marlon Sandro: Fedor wins by judges’ decision.
Ron Foster: Man, this should be an amazing fight. I think it’s crazy that after going undefeated for 10 years and then losing fights to a couple of the best heavyweights in the world people say Fedor is over the hill or overrated. On the other hand, Hendo has looked incredible in his last two fights, finishing them with brutal KOs. We all know that Dan has the one-punch KO power, but the reality is Fedor has proven himself to be very durable and is not easily broken. Although he lost to [Antonio] “Bigfoot” [Silva], he never quit, [despite his being] outweighed by 40 pounds on the day of the fight. He took everything that was thrown at him, and Fedor never stopped trying. I see both guys throwing bombs early, but I see the fight hitting the ground, with Fedor having a major advantage. Fedor will win this fight by submission; should be a memorable fight.
Tom Gavrilos: Both have one-punch knockout power, and, while Henderson has the advantage in takedowns, he surely has the disadvantage in submissions; Fedor by submission.
Pedro Rizzo: I believe Fedor will be hungrier, because he has lost two in a row. He is also more complete then Henderson. Fedor wins.
Kultar Gill: The size difference will be overwhelming for Dan. Even in the wrestling aspect, Fedor will have the power and weight to stop Dan’s takedowns. Fedor will stop Dan in the second round.
Ray Elbe: Hendo. Anything else would be anti-“Amurikan.”
Mike Ciesnolevicz: Two MMA legends with two of the biggest right hands the sport has ever seen. Henderson’s wrestling background and Fedor’s sambo background make this fight even more interesting. A few years ago, in Fedor’s glory days of Pride, I would have said Hendo would get massacred, but Fedor has slowed a bit. I can see the fight going both ways. I hate picking against Hendo, but I will go with Fedor by TKO or submission after he rocks Hendo with some big shots. Fedor’s extra 25 pounds should him help him in striking exchanges, as well as when they clinch up.
Andre Pederneiras: They're both tough fighters, but Fedor is a better striker and has more ability on the floor. I believe Fedor wins.
Benji Radach: I don’t see this fight going any other way than a good old-fashioned USA ass whoopin’ by my boy Dan. Fedor has pulled off some awesome wins from all kinds of positions, has some of the best ground-and-pound in the business and had his hand raised over some of the best dudes on the planet. This fight will be exciting to watch, for sure.
Jason Dent: I got to spend some time training with Hendo on Season 9 of “The Ultimate Fighter,” when I represented the U.S. Team. I was already a huge fan of Dan before the show, and I’m an even bigger one now. I’m picking Hendo to win by TKO in this fight. I predict he will use his wrestling to keep this fight standing and look for his famous big right hand.
Thales Leites: Fedor has lost two fights in a row, but I believe he is the favorite. The fight will start with an open exchange, and they both have heavy hands. I bet that Fedor will win by knockout, even though I believe he’s more likely to pull off a submission than Dan, too. Fedor takes it.
Gabe Ruediger: Man, tough fight. I’ve trained with Dan a lot and consider him a friend. On the other side, Fedor is one of the few fighters I’m actually a fan of. Even with Fedor’s two losses, I think he is an amazing fighter. This may be the first fight where he does not have a weight disadvantage. Both guys have amazing KO power, and, regardless of the outcome, this should be an amazing fight. When doing predictions, I do my very best to leave my biases out, but even in doing so, this is a hard match to predict. With great thought, I’m going with Fedor. That being said, I’m not looking forward to either of them losing, and it’s very possible it can go the other way.
Mark DellaGrotte: I’ve been waiting for this fight for a long time. Both [are] longtime, highly decorated veterans. Both [are] perhaps past their prime but with plenty of fight left in them. Has Fedor been exposed? We know he is beatable. I know Hendo and I know how bad he wants this win. Not sure if Fedor still has it in him to get up for another big fight. Striking advantage to Fedor; wrestling goes to Hendo. Although Fedor can be crafty from his back, I think he is one step behind where he used to be and won’t be able to catch Hendo like he has with some of his past opponents. It’s all going to come down to who comes in more prepared and wants it more. My money is on the red, white and blue. Go Hendo.
Josuel Distak: Fedor will impose his rhythm both on the feet and on the ground, and will win by KO or submission in round two.
Marvin Eastman: Henderson, split decision. He will take Fedor down and try to KO [him] from the floor. [It will be an] ugly fight because Fedor will only go for big overhand right punches. He doesn’t use all his weapons like he used to when he was unbeaten. Dan is a bad boy and has fought everyone out there. Win or lose, much respect.
Sergio Cunha: At this stage of their careers, I’ll bet on Henderson. Henderson is fresh off of a title win and Fedor has lost his last two. Fedor has been demystified; I believe Henderson will win.
Eddy Millis: I think Fedor wins this one by KO in the first round -- by big KO.
Dewey Cooper:This is a fight that I am truly excited about. I love both fighters, so that makes it hard to choose, free from emotions, who will win. Hendo has a chance of defeating any fighter in the world anytime he’s in the cage. On the other hand, Fedor, the power punching knockout specialist, is always one punch away from a knockout victory. Has Father Time caught up to Fedor? Is his reign of terror in the sport of MMA over? I think in this fight Fedor will get back to his winning ways with another devastating knockout of Hendo. Dan will not be afraid to exchange power punches with Fedor, and that will be his demise.
Milton Vieira:Fedor will win. Henderson just got a great win, but Fedor will impose his strategy and have the heavier hands. I believe he’ll win.
Kyle Kingsbury: After being dominated for two and a half rounds, Fedor will make the comeback of his life and pull out an armbar for the win in jaw-dropping, edge-of-your-seat fashion.
Jason Lambert: I’m pulling for Hendo. Think it’s going to be a great fight.
Nam Phan: Fedor hasn’t been looking so good lately. I’m going to have to go with Henderson by overhand right.
Cristiano Marcello: I think Henderson by knockout. Fedor is down recently, while Henderson is excited about his last win.
Travis Wiuff: I wish I could pick Fedor. He is one of my favorites of all time, but I don’t see how he can win this fight. I’m taking Henderson to win a decision with his takedowns.
Doug Marshall: I think people have figured out the conundrum that is Fedor. At the same time, Hendo isn’t 6-foot-4, 265 pounds. If Hendo gets Fedor down, can he control him? I’m going to give the edge to “The Last Emperor.” He’s still got the power, and after tasting defeat, he’s gonna be fired up and has something to prove: that he’s still The Last Emperor.
Jeff Monson: Fedor by stoppage.
John Hackleman: I predict that Hendo will win by powerful right hook. It could be like an overhand, but I think it’ll be more like a hook; like a combination between a hook and an overhand right. I think it’s gonna knock Fedor out. He might have to endure some punishment early on, but, since he has such an iron chin and is such a tough guy, I think he’s going to weather the early storm and I think he’s going to knock Fedor out with a powerful right hook; or maybe a left hook? Nah, right hook. Either way, he’ll knock him out.
Buddy Clinton: Rocky IV. Enough said.
Tom Vaughn: Wow, what a compelling match; big props again to Strikeforce. Fedor is at a low point in his career, but I still think he is a very dangerous cat. Heavyweight fighters are just getting too big for Fedor, but that won’t be the case here. With all do respect to Henderson, I think Fedor is better in all aspects, except perhaps wrestling, and wrestling won’t be enough to win this one. Henderson has this odd thing where he dies in the middle of a fight, then comes back at the end. I see Fedor submitting Hendo when he hits the valley, and, just like that, everyone will be back on Fedor’s [bandwagon]; Fedor by submission in round two.Pros Picking Fedor: 18
Pros Picking Henderson: 14
No Pick: 2
Gleidson Venga contributed to this report. You can contact Mike Sloan at www.facebook.com/mikesloan19.