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Dan Henderson’s Coach Talks Shogun Rua: ‘The Goal Is Always The Knockout’

I’m hoping it’s an explosive fight. Both have the ability to finish it via knockout, but it’s a five rounds bout, so we don’t have to rush into it. We don’t wanna get into a situation where Dan is tired for not having got his coups right. So, we’ll take our time during this fight… Of course the goal is always the knockout. It’s what Dan is up to, he’s always going for the knockout, but we need to know when to attack and when to counterattack… We won’t change Hendo’s style, but we’re working in some details that might surprise Shogun. It ain’t no secret the way Henderson finishes his fights, so my job, along with (Daniel) Woirin, will be to prepare him correctly to use his strongest weapon, his right hand. It becomes dangerous when we use the kicks and his left hands at a time, doing different combinations. So we’ll make him confuse so he forgets about his right hand completely. Obviously, Dan will use his Wrestling when on the clinch, it’ll be important to use different weapons to get Shogun tired.

— Dan Henderson’s striking coach Gustavo Pugliese talking to Tatame about Hendo’s upcoming fight against Shogun Rua at UFC 139

It’s not exactly surprising news that Dan Henderson is going to try to knock out Shogun Rua. That’s what Dan Henderson does. He doesn’t point fight and he’s not gonna start slapping triangles on anyone at this point in his career. He’ll use his Greco-Roman wrestling if he has to but otherwise he’s gonna cock his right hand and look for the knockout blow.

Interestingly, Pugliese thinks Shogun will actually be a much more dangerous opponent for Henderson than Fedor was. Pugliese isn’t impressed with Shogun’s boxing skills but concedes that his dynamic Muay Thai attacks will be more difficult to predict than Fedor’s more straightforward approach to striking.

I really have no idea how this fight will play out, but I’m guessing we’ll at least see Shogun target Hendo’s lead leg with leg kicks in an effort to take away his power. That could turn out to be a mistake if Hendo gets the timing down and sees an opening, but it’s those types of risk-reward scenarios make this fight so intriguing. I expect they’ll be tentative out of the gate, especially with five rounds to work with, but once they get going there will definitely be fireworks.

On a related note, Shogun Rua will not train for this fight at Kings MMA with his former Chute Boxe trainer Rafael Cordiero like he did for UFC 134. Instead, he’ll train in Sao Paulo where he prepared for the Chuck Liddell fight. Shogun’s manager wouldn’t say why, but Cordeiro says there’s no hard feelings. It seems a little odd considering the success he had against Forrest Griffin, but I’m not sure it will matter much. Shogun’s performances in recent years seem to be dictated more by his health than where he trained.

Image via Esther Lin for Strikeforce/Showtime

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