With a 13-fight win streak over some of MMA's biggest names (Paul Daley, Carlos Condit, Yushin Okami, Robbie Lawler, Nick Thompson and Jason "Mayhem" Miller) you would think that the STRIKEFORCE middleweight champion would be a favorite going into his bout. However when you are fighting a world-class athlete like Dan Henderson, the trend tends to favorite the likes of Dan Henderson. None the less, Jake Shields is one of the best middleweight MMA fighters in the world. His "American Jiu-Jitsu (a term he coined by fusing together his BJJ skills learned under Caesar Gracie with his world class grappling skills) combined with the Muay Thai and kickboxing he picked up with Fairtex Combat Academy and Chuck Liddell have proven to be an effective strategy in the octagon as of late. If you are not familiar with Jake Shields, many of his fights are either decided via submission or decision (he carries only 3 knockouts). Three of Jake Shields' losses (last loss was back in 2004) have come from a decision, and he was knocked out once back in 2000. For Jake Shields to defeat Dan Henderson he will need to avoid Henderson's KO power and score enough points throughout the fight to win the decision. Being the aggressor is also a necessary, he cannot sit back and allow for Henderson to pick him apart.
Nearly ten years older than his opponent Jake Shields, Dan Henderson is still considered by many to be the #2 middleweight MMA fighter in the world. There is not much Dan Henderson has not done or accomplished in his mixed martial arts career. Henderson truly is a world-class wrestler, he has been a champion (RINGS Kings of Kings in 1999, PRIDE in 2005, and UFC in 2007) but until now the one thing Henderson has not done is competed in Strikeforce, April 17th will be his Strikeforce debut. His road to Strikeforce is a whole other story. Why the UFC cut Dan Henderson after he was coming off of three decesive victories of Michael Bisping, Rich Franklin and Rousimar Palhares still boggles our mind (considering he is probably one of only 2 or 3 MMA fighters worthy of facing UFC middleweight champ, Anderson Silva). In any case he is now at Strikeforce, and his first challenge will be the most difficult Henderson has faced since back in 2008 when Henderson lost his UFC middleweight title to Anderson Silva. Both of these fighters are technically sound with strong wrestling pedigrees - so look for a strategic fight on April 17th.
No matter how you slice it, Nashivlle MMA fans truly are getting a treat with the Strikeforce Nashville card. These two men are incredibly accomplished fighters and submission-style grapplers. It has been rumored that Jake Shields is planning on standing and striking with Dan Henderson, but as Michael Bisping learned during UFC 100 - that truly would be a costly mistake. Shields needs to be the aggressor, shielding himself from Henderson's striking and controlling Henderson on the mat. Sound overwhelming? Well it is, and it is not likely to happen. Dan Henderson has the advantage on the mat grappling and on his feet striking. I believe Henderson will stand and strike with Shields to keep him on his toes. Then moving into the second and third rounds he will look to control Shields on the ground. In the fourth or early into the fifth, Henderson will be able to defeat a confused and exhausted Jake Shields by way of submission.