It's a fight that Dan Henderson
discussed prior to ever signing with Strikeforce, so the promotion's reigning light-heavyweight champion would gladly temporarily move up a division to accept a match with Russian legend Fedor Emelianenko
Henderson's manager Aaron Crecy told MMA Fighting that while the fighter has yet to receive an offer for the bout, Strikeforce did ask for confirmation he would take the fight before beginning talks with Emelianenko's M-1 team. Those discussions remain ongoing, but as far as Henderson's concerned, he'll take the fight at any weight class.
"Dan has indicated he'd love to have the fight and he hasn't shied away from that," Crecy said. "He'd love to have the fight, and have it at heavyweight. He's happy to challenge Fedor there."
According to sources with knowledge of the situation, Emelianenko's team offered a catch weight of 220 pounds in order to make the fight more appealing to Henderson, but such a gesture may be unnecessary. Crecy said that since Henderson is the one that originally brought up the idea of fighting Emelianenko, it's his obligation to challenge Emelianenko in the weight class he prefers. But regardless of whether Emelianenko prefers heavyweight, light-heavyweight or a catch weight, Henderson would accept the fight.
"Dan admires the guy and feels it's a challenge he's wanted to take for a long time," he said. "He's embraced the possibility of it for a long time."
Henderson (27-8) captured the Strikeforce light-heavyweight championship in a March 5 knockout of Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante but a move up to the heavyweight ranks wouldn't be the first division shift for the fan favorite. In PRIDE, he simultaneously held both the 183- and 205-pound championships, and he previously fought heavyweights including Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Gilbert Yvel.
Emelianenko (31-3, 1 no contest) usually weighs in around between 225-230, about 20 pounds heavier than Henderson, but he's about the same size as many light-heavyweights who cut down to make the 205-pound limit. Because of that, Henderson doesn't see size as an issue to haggle over.
"It's a fight that can only be good for the fans, the promotion and fighters," Crecy said. "Two icons, two legends of the sport. There's no reason not to do it. Dan certainly wants it from his end, he's saying he wants the fight and he wanted to leave no reason for Fedor not to accept it. He's not asking for a catch weight or 205. We're not involved with the dialogue on the other side. That's between Strikeforce and M-1. We have respect for Fedor & M-1 management and we're optimistic something will be worked out. If M-1 and Strikeforce work out what they need to work out, Dan will be excited to take the fight."
An M-1 representative told MMA Fighting that Emelianenko is as interested in the fight as Henderson. With weight class a non-issue, negotiations will turn to matters simple (date and location) and complex (TV possibilities).
"It looks like [Henderson] wants the fight, and Fedor wants it, too," he said.