Forty-eight hours later, I think anybody who was in the Sears Center is still buzzing about the fight between Dan Henderson and Fedor Emelianenko. It seemed to be one of those fights that fans dream about, but never really expect to happen because of the weight differential between the two MMA legends.
That theory may hold true for a lot of fighters, but it never entered the mind of Dan Henderson. Henderson continues to look for the best challenges, even at the age of 40. With no real legit contenders to his Strikeforce light heavyweight championship, Henderson decided to go after the guy once considered the best pound for pound fighter in the world.
The respect between the two fighters was obvious anytime the appeared together in the days leading up to the fight. Unlike Miesha Tate and Marloes Coenen who brought a strong dislike for each other into the cage, Henderson and Emelianenko are fighters who were there to do a job.
What a job they did coming out firing punches from the opening bell. There was no sign of mutual respect during the 4:12 these two went at it, this was a fight is its purest sense. When Emelianenko sent Henderson to the canvas late in the first round, you had to believe the bigger man would try to close the show as he had done so many times during his incredible 28 fight win streak. What he didn’t expect was to be face down and out on the canvas after a brutal uppercut thrown by Henderson.
We have all seen Dan’s power displayed in highlight reel knockouts, but the one Saturday night may be my favorite. To have that kind of power from a kneeling position is scary. It gets scarier when you consider Fedor had never been knocked out. This was not glass-jawed Andrei Arlovski lying face down on the mat; this was “The Last Emperor”.
The only tarnish on the evening was the questions from the Fedor camp about the timing of referee Herb Dean’s stoppage. It started in the cage when Fedor told Gus Johnson he could have continued. I get the fact Fedor is proud and wants to go out on his shield, but his comments came across to many as sour grapes.
At the time of the stoppage, there were 48 seconds remaining in the first round. How quickly people forget what Dan did to Babalu, Feijao and Michael Bisping when given the opportunity to land that last punch. Henderson crushes guys and there is no question in my mind that if Herb Dean had not stepped in (even as timid as Dean did) Dan could have hurt Emelianenko. As Henderson said in the post fight press conference”I wasn’t going anywhere”. Do we really need to see the faded legend carried out on a stretcher before we can give credit for an amazing accomplishment?
Fedor was out and he was done. He answered questions about his heart still being in the game, there was no doubt he trained to win…the problem for Emelianenko was so did Henderson. As a member of Henderson’s camp told me Saturday night”We didn’t train this hard, come all this way to lose”
That was obvious. What will be your lasting image of Fedor? Will it be all of those amazing wins in Pride? Will it be images from his three shocking losses in a row? Or will it be a beaten man pleading that he could have continued?
What happened to “The One who Doesn’t Fall, Doesn’t Stand Up”? I guess that doesn’t apply to those that go to sleep in the middle of the cage. Fedor may deserve respect for what he has accomplished, but his actions showed a lack of respect for Henderson.
It has to be a shock to the system being so good for so long, only to see it all go out the window in a short period of time. It happens in baseball all the time, and now we have seen it in MMA. Bottom line is Fedor has lost three straight and he’s looked worse in each fight.
Now, those comments WERE made immediately after the fight. Maybe when Emelianenko gets home and sits down to watch the fight again, he will realize that Herb Dean not only did the right thing, he also saved Emelianenko from being seriously injured. Emelianenko and his wife have a new baby daughter. Those of us that have kids know firsthand that even the worst day can be forgotten in minutes when playing with your kids.
Other than a banged up eye and some other bumps and bruises that go with being a professional fighter, Emelianenko is able to do that tonight thanks to Herb Dean. Wouldn’t it be nice if the “legend” Emelianenko came out this week and said something to the effect of “after watching the tape of the fight, it was obvious the referee Herb Dean was correct in stopping the fight”
No longer would Fedor be looked at as a guy who can’t handle the truth, but instead as the class guy we all want him to be. Yeah, I won’t hold my breath. Fedor is the cash cow for M-1 and if he is done so are they. It’s a long flight from Chicago to Russia. That’s plenty of time to remind that cash cow of how he got jobbed, and next time people will see the real Fedor. Sure they will.
Armbar. Doctor Stoppage. TKO. What will be next? Retirement would be nice. While never quite looked at as a superstar by American fans, Emelianenko can walk away secure in the huge footprint he made on the sport. Fedor’s salary for this fight was a reported 1.2 million dollars. Since the average salary in Moscow comes in around $39k, I’m guessing the big man lives a comfortable life. There is really no reason to come back, and if that was his last fight on his current contract it’s a moot point.
UFC President Dana White has had a long running feud with M-1, and he seems to enjoy ripping the Russian promoters every chance he gets. Now that Zuffa runs Strikeforce there is no chance Emelianenko sees another 1.2 payday anytime soon. Gone are the super-fights with Brock Lesnar or Cain Velasquez. Japan isn’t an option and neither is Bellator. It’s all of a sudden a pretty lonely road for the guy once considered the world’s best, let’s hope it leads him home and not back in the cage.