On Saturday night I am going to have to fight Fedor a lot differently to how Werdum and Silva did, but I will come up with the same result. I expect the majority of the fight to take place on our feet and in the clinch. I’m looking to strike with him as much as possible and to knock him out when the opportunity presents itself. There’s a good chance it will go to the ground, too, and I’m fine with that. I can see myself putting him on his back and punishing him… I’ve always looked at Fedor as a similar fighter to me in many ways, but I consider myself better in most areas. I just feel I do everything a little better than he does. I’m better than him in the clinch, and I feel that my striking is more technical and sharper than his… Fedor’s extremely quick for a heavyweight, but I am no heavyweight – and I am quick for a light-heavyweight. If anybody can match him for speed and explosiveness, I’d like to think that person is me. I’ll be much lighter than Fedor on Saturday, and with that comes speed. Fedor won’t be able to get away with the things he tries on bigger and slower opponents… I don’t know what a win over Fedor does for my legacy – that’s up to the fans and media to decide – but it does a lot for my own pride and motivation. I keep taking these big challenges because I believe I can conquer them, and so long as I can keep proving people wrong, I’ll be sticking around.

— Dan Henderson blogging on Yahoo! Sports about his big fight this weekend against Fedor Emelianenko

It’s interesting what two losses in a row can do to the perception of a fighter. Before Fabricio Werdum choked him out and Antonio Silva beat him into a bloody mess, Fedor was a god. But now? He’s nothing more than a washed up heavyweight who’s on his way out of the sport if you listen to all the internet chatter. I’m not one to buy into such extremes — I’d argue that he’s somewhere in the middle — but there’s no denying that a third loss and particularly a poor showing against Dan Henderson this weekend will be devastating to his career, if it doesn’t outright end it.

Truthfully, I don’t expect that to happen, but Hendo does present different challenges to Fedor than Werdum, Silva and most of his previous opponents did. Whether he was fighting a monstrous heavyweight or just an averaged size one, Fedor’s biggest competitive advantage has always been his speed. But that won’t be the case here against a lighter Hendo. Fedor has never been afraid to get in wild exchanges with his opponents and most of the time he was quick and precise enough to land the big shots before his opponent did, but in this fight, he runs the very real risk of getting caught by Hendo’s patented “H-bomb.” If that happens, it’s probably game over.

It would be one of his greatest career accomplishments for him personally, but what would it really mean for his legacy? After all, Dan Henderson will only be remembered as someone who fought Fedor the god if he loses.

Image via Esther Lin for Strikeforce/Showtime