Dan Henderson defeated Fedor Emelianenko this past Saturday night in a battle for the ages, but unfortunately his victory wasn’t as clear-cut as maybe he’d have liked.
Watching the fight, it seemed clear that — while Emelianenko could have been allowed more time to recover — there wasn’t much he was going to be able to do to stop Henderson’s onslaught. The two engaged in a back and forth battle that Emelianenko seemed to be on the way to taking home, but a moment of over-zealousness lead to The Last Emperor getting hit with an unexpected shot and sent face-first to the mat.
As Henderson started to unload on Fedor, referee Herb Dean jumped in to end the contest. After watching the fight, Dean told MMAJunkie.com that he stood by his decision to stop the bout.
“If I see a fighter face down receiving shots, I’m going to step in and stop the fight,” said Dean. “I can’t predict how long he’s going to be unconscious for. The fight is over when he’s unconscious.
“Because he comes back swiftly after I’ve already stepped in and stopped the fight, I can’t restart the fight,” he continued. “Dan’s still throwing punches, but once I’ve touched Dan, I’ve stopped the fight.”
Many have expressed the feeling that the former Pride FC champion should have been given more time to recover and that the fight should only have been stopped when there was a clear end.
“I stepped in to support him once he stood up because his balance was still not totally there. I believe his motor control was still questionable,” Dean said.
Unlike after his last defeat, Emelianenko didn’t seem as somber and ready to walk away. When he was asked what’s next on his plate, he joked that, owing to his three-fight losing streak, he’s due in for at least a couple of rematches at this point.
“We’ll see,” he said through a smile. “It just seems a lot of potential rematches have built up the last few fights.”
For now though, the enigmatic legend only has plans to go home to Stary Oskol and visit his newborn baby daughter. After he settles in and collects his thoughts, he’ll make a plan for his fighting future.
As for Henderson, having just beaten one of the most well-respected heavyweight fighters in the sport, he hopes to defend his light heavyweight title from here — but that all depends on what the Zuffa heads have in store for him now that he ran out the last fight on his Strikeforce contract.
“I’d like to defend my belt in Strikeforce,” Henderson said. “But it’s all up to Strikeforce and now Zuffa, the new owners. We’ll see what happens, but I’m just going to enjoy this victory for a while.”