Like most of you, I was very entertained by Dan Henderson's fight with Rafael 'Feijao' Cavalcante. Immediately following his win, comparisons between Hendo and Jake Shields sprang up all over the Internet. Over on Bloody Elbow, they called it "MMA's Big Trade." And, since they swapped promotions, both fighters have faired well. In the UFC, Shields won a questionable decision over Martin Kampann and was awarded a title shot against Georges St. Pierre. In Strikeforce, Henderson defeated Babalu Sorbral in a rematch that took 10 years to make. He followed that up by upsetting the much younger Cavalcante to become a 40-year-old Light Heavyweight Champion.
Here is a little description of the contest from the very informative MMAMania.com:
"Feijao" hurt "Hendo" early, but was unable to finish the job and surrendered his belt after getting hit with an "H-Bomb" late in the third frame. Fortunately, the Brazilian doesn't offer the usual litany of excuses and instead credits his "clever" opponent for the defeat.
It sounds like a great fight, doesn't? A come-from-behind win.The wily veteran using patience and prowess to bomb on his younger opponent.
Which brings me to the gist of my argument: You don't need to look at ratings or pay-per-view buys to decide who got the better end of the Jakes Shields-Dan Henderson exchange. The bottom line is one fighter is entertaining and one fighter isn't. It's not about not being able to appreciate the ease at which Jake Shields uses wrestling in mixed martial arts. It's not about understanding the complexities of a grappling master like Shields. It's that Shields is in no way entertaining to watch.
I'm sure Jake Shields is a hell of a guy. I agree he's one of the best fighters in the world in two different weight classes. As a fan of mixed martial arts and not "bad kickboxing," I can acknowledge and appreciate those things. That said, I hate watching his fights and would rather watch Dan Henderson 10 times out of 10. Shields is a great fighter and it ends there. Henderson is a great fighter, an exciting fighter, a knock-out artist and an icon.
If your goal is to simply have the best fighters in the world square off, Shields is your man. If your goal is to have the best fighters in the world square off AND entertain your viewers, Henderson is more qualified. Admittedly, I am somewhat obsessed with exposing the sport to new fans. I try to do it on the radio and in my personal life. If you were in my shoes and you had to sell a skeptical listener on MMA by showing them Henderson's last fight or Shields', which would you use? How about their last five fights? Here's a hint: Shields has had three decisions in a row. (No KOs since 2007.) In his last five contests, Henderson has three finishes, all by by knockout. That includes this timeless classic:
I can watch Jake Shields fight and understand his talents and abilities. He just doesn't make it fun to watch his talents and abilities. That's not on Shields, but it is on the promoter that decides to sign him while passing on Hendo. Dana White knows more about promoting MMA than I ever will. He has gotten over on many of his adversaries. When the Shaws were hitching their wagon to Kimbo Slice in EliteXC, White was hitching his wagon to Brock Lesnar. When Slice flamed out, Dana scooped him up to boost ratings on the Ultimate Fighter while losing no credibility. He didn't give in to M1's ridiculous demands to sign Fedor Emelianenko and looks like a genius because of it; The Last Emperor seems more human after two straight losses.
Dana usually makes the right call. He did not here. Jake Shields is Ambien and Dan Henderson is Xenadrine. Which one do you use to get your heart rate up?