Henderson goes back in time for next fight

Dan Henderson has little left to prove in mixed martial arts. He’s won titles in multiple weight classes in various organizations and stayed near the top of the sport throughout his lengthy career.

So the 40-year-old probably can’t add much to his legacy Saturday if he defeats Renato “Babalu” Sobral — a fighter Henderson beat more than 10 years ago — in the light heavyweight main event of a Strikeforce card at St. Louis.

Henderson, who decisioned Sobral in February 2000, has a simpler reason for taking the fight.

“Excitement value,” he said. “It will not be a boring fight. I am in this to perform well, and I want to make sure it is exciting for the fans and to bring new fans to the sport. I did not do that in my last fight.”

Henderson’s proclamation comes on the heels of his disappointing Strikeforce debut against Jake Shields in April. Having signed with Strikeforce as one of the sport’s most attractive free agents, Henderson was controlled by Shields for most of the final four rounds in a lackluster fight televised on CBS.

Henderson blamed distractions for keeping him from being properly prepared for the fight. He wants to prove that performance was an anomaly but stopped short of calling this a must-win.

“I feel like I am out there to win, and make sure I win every fight. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way, but I don’t feel like it’s a do-or-die situation,” the two-time Olympic wrestler said. “I am not going to retire if it doesn’t go my way, but I feel very confident in my training for this fight.”

The bout, which highlights a Showtime card that will air at 10 p.m. on tape delay, is likely to determine the leading contender to Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Rafael Feijao’s belt.

Former NFL star and Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker was supposed to fight on the card but was pulled because of injury. Valentijn Overeem was also scratched from his bout with Antonio Silva. Mike Kyle will step in to fight Silva, Strikeforce announced Monday.

Paul Daley will meet Scott Smith in an expected slugfest, and Robbie Lawler takes on Matt Lindland.

■ TUF FINALE — The Ultimate Fighting Championship will host a card at the Palms on Saturday, the first time the organization has staged an event in its home market since July 3.

The card features a light heavyweight clash between Stephan Bonnar and Igor Pokrajac, as well as the finals of the Season 12 tournament of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

The finalists will be determined by the semifinal bouts, which will air on Wednesday night’s episode of the reality show on Spike (Cable 29).

Also, Demian Maia will meet Kendall Grove in a matchup of middleweights trying to stay in the division’s upper echelon.

The card has a bit of historical relevance to the UFC. It will be the first to include bantamweight and featherweight fighters from World Extreme Cagefighting, whose merger with the UFC becomes official in January.

The event will air tape delayed on Spike (Cable 29) at 9 p.m.

■ AWARDS — The World MMA Awards will be given out during a banquet at the Palms on Wednesday.

The ceremony will be hosted by UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture and will be taped to air on Versus at a date to be determined.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509.

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