Andrew Shaw fights

Andrew Shaw made quite the impression with MMA fighters with his scrap against Dallas' Antoine Roussel. (Scott Strazzante / Chicago Tribune / December 4, 2013)

Fight recognize fight.

Benson Henderson and Josh Thomson, UFC lightweight contenders who will headline the Jan. 25 card in Chicago, got an intense United Center preview Tuesday. Between participating in Shoot the Puck and watching the game, they came away impressed with Andrew Shaw's scrap against Antoine Roussel, and the Hawks as a whole.

How was the game?

Josh Thomson: I'm a big fan of Jonathan Toews, even though I'm a Sharks fan. I'm a big fan of him. I like Kane as well. I just like hockey, I'm a hockey fan, a big fan of those guys.

What did you think of the Andrew Shaw-Antoine Roussel fight?

JT: What I liked was that it started off [with] a little taunting, then once the first punch was thrown, it was down. So it was awesome. I was surprised he let the jersey get pulled over his head, I thought that was illegal though. That's why [the officials] jump in right? Then he was able to pull it back off. They should have just backed away and let them keep fighting. The refs kept trying to get in there and break it up, I was surprised one of the refs didn't get hit. I was actually surprised they were able to get [Shaw] down too though.

What did you think of Shaw's fighting ability?

Benson Henderson: I like his feistiness; he's tenacious. He had to be pulled off of [Roussel] by a guy. He didn't [stop] [when the refs said] "Oh stop guys," like that. [Shaw said] "[Bleep] that, you have to pull me off this guy."

JT: I was very impressed. It's a whole different game when you can grab jerseys and push and pull and you're on skates. I can't even imagine what that would be like trying to fight out there on skates. Just on regular shoes it would be crazy.

Did you speak with Shaw after the game?

BH: Yeah we went downstairs and met some of the guys. They're all super cool, nice guys. They're fans of fighting, believe it or not. [Laughs.]

Did you give him any advice?

BH: Not really, no. But I told him, "Hey man, that was awesome. That was a great fight." Didn't tell him "do this, or do that," nothing like that.

If you get an athlete like Shaw the right training, is there a chance he'd make a good amateur fighter?

JT: I think with anybody if you have some sort of athletic background, we can get you in there and get you some experience and you can compete at a low level as a pro, but it will take time.

So Shaw could be an MMA fighter?

JT: He could be an MMA fighter, but definitely not at [180 pounds, as Shaw is listed on the Blackhawks' website]. [Laughs.] Definitely no way. Honestly 155 might be a little tough. We'd probably have to take him to 45 [145].

Was being at the game a good warmup for fighting at the United Center?

BH: For sure. Being able to see the arena—it will probably be a little smaller for the UFC, but being able to see the fans, the crowds there, that's amazing. I do a lot of visualization, so that will give me a lot of good visualizations to go back on.

Scott King is a RedEye special contributor.

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