by Jesse Holland
Three strikes and you're out.
Famed Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko will try to pull the chute on his current freefall when he battles Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Dan Henderson in the main event of "Fedor vs. Henderson" set to go down on July 30, 2011, at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.
Emelianenko (31-3) was bounced from the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament earlier this year after the cageside doctor deemed him unfit to answer the bell for round three of his quarterfinal bout against Antonio Silva.
Aside from the shock of his second consecutive loss, it was clear "The Last Emperor" was being manhandled for most of the fight, leaving many fans wondering if what was once considered the greatest heavyweight MMA fighter in history was outdated and overmatched.
Or was his performance a direct result of his failure to evolve as a fighter? The former PRIDE deity talks to SBNation.com about his new approach to the "Hendo" fight:
"I did speak of retiring and it was said in haste. Two mistakes in a row can not be coincidence. I do not want to allow a third, which is why I thought about departing from the sport. But then I discussed the situation with my coaches and spiritual father when I got home. After this I was absolutely sure that it is not the time for retirement and I must continue to fight. Now I'm training and preparing for the next battle with Dan Henderson. I've drawn conclusions on what areas of my training need work and what to pay attention to in training and in battle. This time I have trained in Holland, in Russia and again at the training camp in Holland. I work with people who are the best in their disciplines and are focused on preparing me for the battle with Dan Henderson."
Henderson, also a former PRIDE star, knows a thing or two about being counted out.
After an uninspiring debut saw him fall short against Jake Shields at Strikeforce: "Nashville" back in 2010, "Hollywood" (27-8) redeemed himself by knocking out Renato "Babalu" Sobral in St. Louis later that year.
The win was enough to earn him a title shot against division champion Rafael Cavalcante back on March 5 and "Hendo" made the most of the opportunity by knocking out "Feijao" with an "H-bomb" in the third round.
With Strikeforce suffering from a lack of depth in its 205-pound division, Henderson immediately set his sights on the down-but-not-out Emelianenko, who may be one loss away from permanently hanging up the gloves.
Whaddaya say Maniacs, is Hendo biting off more than he can chew? Or will he send the Russian back behind the iron curtain for good?
How do you see this one unfolding?