When Rafael Cavalcante challenged Muhammed Lawal for the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Championship, the fight could not have played out better in his favor. Lawal worked a systematic, predictable wrestling game, shooting in for double leg takedowns at different angles and distances. "Feijao" expected this of Lawal, and used a very effective sprawl-and-brawl attack to tire "King Mo" out and eventually score the TKO. He ate up Lawal with knees and elbows, and eventually finished the fight on elbows to get the upset and win the title.
He faces another wrestler in Dan Henderson, but unlike Lawal, "Hendo" won't be goaded into shooting from a distance and running right into those powerful knees. Henderson, who is representing California in the main event, uses his wrestling in different ways, in conjunction with his massive right hand, which has devestated some of the best in mixed martial arts over the years.
Henderson's plodding, walk-through style will be a much different test for Cavalcante. The fight will be a standup fight at its core, but he will always have to ensure he isn't dropped, staggered or bullied to the ground, lest Henderson get on top and rain down the same ground-and-pound attack that put Renato Sobral out at Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu 2 just a short time ago. The way to victory for Cavalcante will be to work his standup game and try and maintain distance and speed to tire out Henderson, and to make sure he doesn't allow the right hand to connect.
Tiring Henderson out is certainly a possibility. At 40 years old, Henderson doesn't have the cardio that he used to, though it's unclear of how far gone it actually is. Before the Sobral fight, he took on then-middleweight champion Jake Shields and lost four of the five rounds on most peoples' scorecards, gassing after the first round. There were reports that he had a bad weight cut, but who knows what actually happened? When you're 40, excuses always seem a bit more ... "excuse-like."
The problem for Feijao is whether or not working that kind of gameplan is feasible over five rounds. Henderson is ridiculously hard to finish, so a decision seems likely for the champion, if he can avoid being finished. Taking all this into account, it appears that cardio will be the biggest factor. If it's not finished by Henderson in the first two or three rounds, look for Feijao to grab a five-round decision win. It's a pick 'em.