When Dan Henderson steps into the cage against Jake Shields on April 17, it will be his first fight since UFC 100, more than nine months earlier. That's the longest layoff Henderson has had in more than five years, and Henderson acknowledges that getting into peak physical condition after such a long layoff is a concern.
"Getting in shape," Henderson said of his top priority. "It's been since July since I fought. I've been training here and there, but not steadily, so I'm just making sure I'll be in great shape for this fight. That's my focus right now and then the next couple weeks we'll start formulating a game plan."
But the game plan, Henderson says, is kind of obvious: Shields almost always wins either by submission or by grinding out a decision on the ground.
"Jake Shields is known to just take guys down, trying to submit them or beat them by controlling them, so I need to work on avoiding that."
After beating Michael Bisping in July, Henderson initially thought he'd return to the cage in September for a fight with Rich Franklin. Then when that fizzled, he thought he'd be fighting Nate Marquardt in November. Then his contract talks with the UFC stalled, he signed with Strikeforce, and he hoped to get into the cage in late January or early February. But that didn't work out, either, and now he finally has April 17 as his date. We'll find out then whether he can shake off the ring rust.
Video via Bloody Elbow.