Print and Go Back ESPN.com: MMA [Print without images]

Thursday, July 21, 2011
Henderson could send Fedor into retirement

By Franklin McNeil

It’s enough that Dan Henderson and Fedor Emelianenko are facing each other to make the Strikeforce card on July 30 (Showtime at 10 p.m. ET) worth watching. But for those needing an additional reason to tune-in, how’s this: It could be Emelianenko’s final fight.

The former Pride heavyweight champion, who has dropped each of his past two bouts (to Fabricio Werdum and Antonio Silva), isn’t ruling out the possibility of calling it quits if he falls to Henderson.

“I don’t know; we’ll see,” Emelianenko said during a Strikeforce conference call on Thursday to promote the bout. “Everything will be known after the fight. It’s better to talk about that and answer that question after the fight.

“What I have learned is that I can thank God for all of my successes and all of my failures, all of my good times and all of my bad times. I’m thankful to Him for all that he’s given me.”

Despite his recent disappointments inside the cage, Emelianenko (31-3-0) still believes in his fighting abilities and expects to end his two-bout skid.

“[Losing] hasn’t affected my confidence at all,” Emelianenko said. “If God has given us a certain path for my life, then I have to go down that path and feel confident about it.”

Faith is helping Emelianenko get through his recent difficulties in the cage, but Henderson has a strong belief that he will leave this fight victorious.

Henderson has closely watched Emelianenko’s two recent setbacks and spotted mistakes in the former champion’s approach. If Emelianenko has not corrected those flaws, Henderson plans to exploit them.

“Against Werdum, it seemed he got a little cocky with his submission defense, thinking he wouldn’t get submitted,” Henderson said. “Everybody can get caught, I guess.

“With Silva, he was a little bit out of shape; the size definitely got to him. Silva just hung out on top of him and didn’t let him move that whole second round. But no matter if he’s in shape or out of shape, he’s still dangerous. Anybody who has their back to the wall is definitely more dangerous.”

One thing is for sure: Retirement isn’t an option for the 40-year-old Henderson, whose contract with Strikeforce will be completed after this fight.

No matter the outcome of this fight, Henderson’s wants to defend his light heavyweight title.

“I don’t have any plans on going anywhere,” said Henderson, who will take a pro record of 27-8-0 into the cage against Emelianenko. “I’d like to defend that Strikeforce [light heavyweight] belt and go from there. But we have to figure everything out at the same time.”

For Henderson, this fight marks another chapter in a storied career. His book, however, appears far from being completed.

The same can't be said about Emelianenko. We will learn on July 30 if his story has reached its conclusion.