Fedor Emelianenko entered the cage in the Sears Centre having lost two in a row, looking to right the ship. Dan Henderson entered the cage with this being his last contracted fight for Strikeforce. So win or lose his future was in the air. When it all came to pass, Dan Henderson put Fedor away in the first round, winning the biggest fight of his career.
As soon as the bout started both Dan Henderson and Fedor Emelianenko came to the middle of the cage and started slinging leather. Both men threw huge shots, trying to fall the other but neither man was able to. Dan Henderson did clip Fedor however and used the momentum to hold him against the fence, delivering knees, elbows and short shots at Fedor who covered up well.
The shot that clipped Fedor immediately cut him and the same eye that was closed and caused the stoppage in Fedor’s fight with Antonio Silva, was against swelling, cut and an issue. The two fighters found themselves squared off once again and after an exchange, Henderson was hit with a combination and then a right hand that dropped him to the mat. Fedor immediately dove in and tried to finish the action with some immediate ground and pound.
To his credit, Dan Henderson was able to cover up and after a scramble, he hit Fedor with an uppercut while both fighters were still on the mat that seemingly knocked Fedor out. Dan immediately pounced and hit Fedor was some questionable shots to the back of the head, that actually appeared to wake Fedor and Herb Dean was on the spot to jump in and wave off the action in the first frame.
Immediately after the stoppage, Dan Henderson jumped up, screamed and leapt up to the top of the cage, showing more emotion than he normally does. He respected Fedor, and this win meant a lot to him, and it showed. For Dan Henderson it is a milestone victory that will cement him as an all time great in the sport of mixed martial arts.
Fedor took a minute to get to his feet and when prompted stated he felt it was an early stoppage. The fact is, fighters sometimes don’t realize they were out. How many times have we seen a fighter go limp, then be hit again, wake up and go into the defensive posture and argue a stoppage. I don’t think at the moment that Fedor said it was a quick stoppage, he even knew he had gone limp and ate the mat.
The entire evening, the classy Showtime network and their three blind mice, Mauro, Frank and Gus asked, polled, subjected and hinted at Fedor’s impending retirement if he were to lose. It isn’t up to any of us or to them if and when Fedor decided to quit competing. Even if you think his better days are behind him, he’s undoubtedly earned the right to go out on his own terms. He is currently at a crossroads, and he will dictate to us where he chooses to go and what he chooses to do. As it should be.
Another fighter perhaps at a crossroads is Dan Henderson. He’s the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight champion and just defeated Fedor, but his contract has expired and he makes a lot of money fighting. The question for Strikeforce or more notably Zuffa, is, does it pencil to resign Dan Henderson? Honestly to me it is a no brainer. He’s your champion, and among the most popular fighters on earth. As Teddy KGB from “Rounders” would say, “Pay that man his money,” but it’s not that simple.
Dan has a love/hate relationship with Dana White and he doesn’t fit into the mold of what Dana wants his fighters to be. He isn’t flashy; he doesn’t talk a whole lot. He simply shows up and more often than not, beats his opponent and goes on living his life.
It would be a shocking turn of events if Dan isn’t resigned, because that sends a frightening message to the rest of the roster. Become champion, behave well, win the biggest fight of your career and be cut. It would scare everyone on the roster I’d imagine. Dan Henderson deserves to be signed and I believe quite honestly at this point is a legitimate threat to Jon Jones’ reign in the UFC.
It will be interesting to see what happens with Fedor and Dan Henderson in the weeks and months to come. Tonight however congrats to both men for putting on a hell of a fight and being class fighters and sportsmen in the process.
Get more great MMA news, recaps and analysis over at MMA Valor.