5 Minutes With Dan Henderson
Here you are, four days after defeating Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante, what does Dan Henderson do after winning the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Title?
Just having a little fun. I’ve been doing a lot of PR stuff and having a drink or two. I’ll probably do a little turkey hunting at the end of the month.
What’s your drink of choice?
Beer or Red Bull and vodka.
Are you pretty tight with your diet and drinking when you’re training, or do you still enjoy a drink?
I don’t drink for two months before a fight—nothing. I’m pretty strict about that. It keeps me focused, and it’s sort of a welcome detoxification phase.
I know for a fact there is a kegerator permanently on tap in your living room.
I think it’s empty right now. I have to fill it backup. I’ll probably fill it up with double-barrel ale or a Hefenweizen.
How hurt were you when Feijao knocked you down in the first round?
I felt like I was aware the whole time. I didn’t have time to really think about it or anything. I just saw him coming in, grabbed his legs, and took him down. I don’t think I was that hurt, but it definitely rung my bell and knocked me down.
You used the phrase, “Winning a belt is a cherry on top.” Is winning a belt not a motivating factor anymore?
It can’t be the sole purpose for getting motivated for a fight. I enjoy the challenge. The challenge is my opponent and not necessarily the belt. Like I said, the belt is just an added bonus.
Do you ever have any input on your opponents?
No, I don’t have any part of that. I leave it up to the matchmaker and the fans, so if they want to see something, it typically happens a lot of the time.
One potential opponent mentioned that has raised some eyebrows is a possible matchup with heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko. Is that a fight that you think will happen?
I’m hearing a lot of questions about it. I’m open to it. I have no problems doing that. I’m not sure if now is the right time. He’s coming off two losses. I don’t know, maybe after he gets rejuvenated and re-motivated to train, it might be a better time. I think it’s an interesting matchup the fans would love to see, and it would probably be one of the biggest challenges of my fight career.
You always seem to perform better against heavier guys. Why is that?
I have no idea. Maybe I’m faster than they are. I feel good not having to cut weight. When I feel good, when my body feels good, I feel like there is no one I can’t beat.
Another wrestler you are familiar with, Joe Warren, wants to compete in the 2012 Olympics and fight in MMA fulltime. Can someone compete at the highest level of both sports and not have one take away from the other?
No, it’s a tough thing to do. If you’re going to do one 100%, it will definitely take away from the other. My suggestion to him would be to really focus on wrestling, and if he wants to win that medal in the Olympics, do that, and do MMA as part of his cross-training and have fun with it.
How do you think you would do these days with the young bucks on the international wrestling circuit?
I have no idea, but probably not that great. I haven’t wrestled competitively in 10 years.
Do you miss the wrestling mats?
Not at all, I stay pretty busy doing this. If I quit cold turkey and had a regular job, I’m sure I would miss it.
You were a two-time Olympian but never got that Olympic medal. Does that ever bother you?
No, it’s pretty much behind me. I’ve set other goals and achieved certain goals. It would have been nice to have that Olympic medal, but it was a path that led me to MMA.
What’s on your iPod right now?
Shit, I don’t know. My kids put stuff on it. I have no idea.
No, just mostly country music for me. They pretty much do what they want with it, and I just skip some of the songs occasionally. I have a few favorites. I like Tobey Keith. My favorite is Jimmy Buffet.
You have a lot of nicknames, from “Hollywood” to “Hendo” to “Dangerous.” Which one do you like the best?
None of them were self-chosen except for Hendo. I pretty much got tired of all the other nicknames and just stuck with Hendo. I was never fond of Hollywood.
I’ve always thought that a fighter who has a name that starts with a “D” should go by “Dirty.” Not that you’re a dirty fighter, but how does “Dirty” Dan Henderson sound?
[Laughs] I’m sure I’ve been called that before.