Of course one of the greatest one-round fights would end in controversy.
Tonight (July 30, 2011), Dan Henderson knocked out Fedor Emelianenko. The official record will show a TKO win for "Hendo" but after a thorough look at the tape, it was quite clear that an "H-Bomb" put "The Last Emperor" to sleep, if only for a second.
And just as soon as he saw this, referee Herb Dean stepped in to stop the fight.
But, as happens so often, the Russian machine immediately awoke and began to fight again, making the fans both at home and in attendance question the nature of the stoppage, despite the fact that after he stood up he was stumbling around like a "drunken monkey," as Frank Shamrock referred to it.
Was it too quick? Should Dean have given Fedor more time to recover? After all, one of the best comebacks of all time, Cheick Kongo knocking out Pat Barry, was only possible because the referee let the fight continue despite multiple openings to call an end to it.
The pundits, voicing their thoughts mostly on Twitter, seem to be split. Some say it was a solid stoppage and Dean should be lauded for protecting a clearly downed fighter.
Others claim Emelianenko was never truly given the chance to recover in the same manner as so many others before him, which, of course, could have seen a much different end to the fight.
So what does Fedor himself think? He disagrees with the stoppage and here's what he had to say about it. Also included is a .gif to help you decide for yourself.
"I think it was early, I don't want to say anything bad about the referee or anything but it was early. Well, I was clearly hit but I wasn't hit flush directly and it seems like I could have continued but the referee decided to stop the fight."
From multiple camera angles shown directly after the fight, it appeared as though Henderson, after a scramble, landed on Fedor's back and unleashed a vicious uppercut that found its mark.
Here's a .gif to illustrate the final sequence. Thanks to Zombie Prophet at IronforgesIron.com:
As you can see, once Henderson landed that uppercut, Emelianenko dropped flat. Not just rocked but he appeared, for just a couple seconds, to go completely motionless, only moving due to the force of the follow up blows.
One would assume it difficult to argue the stoppage, seeing this angle. Then again, it's a fine line between allowing a fighter to take more damage than necessary and giving him time to adequately defend himself.
It ain't easy being a referee.
We know what Fedor thinks, and Henderson believed it to be a good stoppage. If it's not clear already, I also thought Dean was justified in his call.
What do you Maniacs think? Good or bad stoppage?