Dan Henderson could have placed the final nail in the coffin of a spectacular career when he knocked out legendary heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko on Saturday at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Ill. The finish came after a momentous first round in which the Russian attacked from the opening bell as the two clashed in a violent exchange. Dan got the better of the confrontation as he sent Fedor back against the cage with a furious right hand and left hook that left visible damage on the Russians right eye. Henderson used his Greco Roman wrestling to grind Fedor against the cage until they finally broke up and restarted the action in the middle of the cage. Fedor attacked and sent Dan rolling to the canvas in an attempt to regain his composure. Fedor swarmed and punished the American with ground and pound but left himself open to a sweep that allowed Henderson to escape to the back and land a brutal uppercut. The shot sent Fedor face first into the canvas and was followed by several others as referee Herb Dean stepped in to save Emelianenko from any unnecessary damage.
The stoppage had some people confused in the arena, perhaps too early, but in my opinion justified after looking at the replay. There was nothing good going to come from letting Dan Henderson punish his opponent from the top until he went back out completely. Herb Dean is one of the best refs in the business for a reason and he saw Fedor go limp and unable to defend himself. No doubt this will leave Fedor fans with a bitter taste in their mouth and the internet is ablaze with his backers talking controversy. During the post fight questioning from Gus Johnson, Emelianenko said it was “God’s Will” when asked if he would retire and he also felt the fight was stopped prematurely. In the end, none of that matters now, but the real question is where Fedor ends up from here?
Why The Greatest of All Time Doesn’t Matter
There has been so much talk of “The Greatest of All Time” in this sport but to me it doesn’t really matter. It’s been proven time and time again that every generation of athlete is growing exponentially beyond their previous counterparts in all sports. You see this discussion in basketball with Michael Jordan used as a comparison. There is no doubt Mike was great, but at some point there will come along a player that makes even his skill and accomplishments look human. In MMA going undefeated for nine plus years is virtually unheard of, Fedor accomplished it…you cannot deny him that.
You also had to be there on Saturday to see the amount of emotion and adoration a guy like Emelianenko gets from his fans…that my friends is the true measure of the greatest of all time. A guy who leaves it all on the field of battle and gives the crowd the thrill they are looking for. He may be getting older and he may not have evolved as much as his fans would want him to, but he is still polarizing. And for my money, I’ll take “The Last Emperor” I saw on Saturday over a washed down version that John Fitches or GSP’s his opponents into submission.
Miesha Tate Submits Coenen
Miesha Tate took the Strikeforce Womens Bantamweight Belt from Marloes Coenen with a fourth round arm triangle victory. The submission came after three plus rounds of slow paced grappling that seemed to suck the life out of the arena. UFC President Dana White has continuously contended that he is not interested in watching women fight, and this was perhaps a great example of why. At this weight class, the women just do not seem to have enough power to give bloodthirsty fans the brutal finishes they are looking for. I for one am a fan of women’s MMA and hope that it continues no matter what happens to Strikeforce.
Kennedy Relentless over Lawler
Tim Kennedy no doubt earned some fans with his unwavering pursuit of the always dangerous Robbie Lawler in a 30-27 decision victory. Lawler was outworked for three rounds and forced to fend off takedown attempts coming from all angles and distances. Lawler caught Kennedy with an uppercut that opened a cut on the bridge of the nose early in the second round. Unrelenting, Kennedy managed to get another takedown and spent the remainder of the second round working his ground and pound and attempting to improve his position from inside Lawlers guard. With this decision victory, Kennedy sets himself up for a potential rematch with current Middleweight Champion Jacare and will look to avenge his controversial loss their previous fight.
Daley With A Moral Victory
Perhaps the most impressive performance of the night for me was that Paul Daley seems to have improved his wrestling, who would have guessed that would happen? Even though the UFC veteran Daley lost on the cards, the fact he was able to fend off most of Woodley’s takedowns until both fighters reached the point of exhaustion in the third round has to be a moral victory and a sign of good things to come. The only question that really remains for Daley is what happens to his career should Strikeforce fold into the UFC?
And what about the stories from the undercard, like the exciting blow out between Derek Brunson and Lumumba Sayers that had both fighters coming out swinging from bell to bell. Brunson attempted and missed one of the fiercest superman punches I have ever seen flying wildly into the cage before getting the submission win late in the first round. Tyler Stinson caused Eduardo Pamplona to punch out early after eating a thundering right hand at 0:15 in the first round and getting the KO victory.
Finally, local Heavyweight and Cut Throat MMA veteran Gabriel Salinas-Jones gets the submission victory (brabo choke) at 1:19 of round three over Bryan Humes. The two heavyweights lumbered through the first two rounds with Salinas-Jones slowly sucking the life out of Humes and nearly finishing him with strikes in the second. With the win, Salinas-Jones earns his first big show victory and record of 5-0 overall. No doubt he has some work left in the gym and will continue to improve with UFC veteran Mike Russow and BJJ coach Rodrigo Medeiros in his corner.