Photo by Josh Hedges/Forza LLC/Forza LLC via Getty Images
It was a real life "Clash of the Titans" last night (July 30, 2011) when legends of the sport Dan Henderson and Fedor Emelianenko battled in one of the wildest fights of the year in the headlining fight of Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson.
The expectations were incredibly high, and boy, did both men deliver.
In one of of the biggest swings of momentum you'll ever see in an MMA fight, Henderson went from being on the ropes to dethroning "The Last Emperer" with a classic right hand.
How did it happen? What set it up?
Our special analysis and fallout of the fight is after the jump.
Less than two seconds after the fight began, the Russian brawler was already swinging for the fences, which caught Henderson off guard. Both men exchanged big blows, rocking each other before taking a breather for a couple minutes along the fence with Henderson being the aggressor on the inside, throwing multiple knees to Emelianenko's legs.
After they reset, Fedor utilized his speed and connected with repeated strikes that had the current Strikeforce light heavyweight champion in trouble. After another big blow connected, Henderson went down and Fedor swarmed him with ground and pound, overaggressively going for the finish just like the Fabricio Werdum fight.
Henderson defended himself, clutched a leg and in an incredibly slick transition, slipped behind "The Last Emperer" and threw a massive uppercut that snuck past the Russian's arms and blasted his exposed face, all in a matter of one second.
Emelianenko's reaction was something no one had ever seen in his entire career, going completely limp, temporarily out cold from a "Dangerous Dan" patented right hand and with some follow up ground and pound, referee Herb Dean was forced to put a halt to the action, giving Henderson by far the biggest win of his already legendary careeer.
For Fedor Emelianenko, after a near ten year unbeaten streak, the beloved brawler has now lost three in a row, all by stoppage. He was mum on the retirement talk in the immediately post-fight fallout and at the press conference, stating that he'd talk it over with his people before making a hasty decision, but honestly, what does Strikeforce or anyone else do with the languishing legend?
At this point, there aren't many new possibilities in Strikeforce. There are a couple rematches that could be intriguing against Werdum or even Henderson as last night's fight was very entertaining and evenly-matched but Henderson would also like to defend his Strikeforce title. Fedor may be done with Strikeforce, even if he doesn't retire. He could be given a few "gimmes" against some lower-level M-1 heavyweights but is that really how he wants to be remembered? Perhaps the most intriguing fight of all would be a one-time deal with the UFC to welcome Brock Lesnar back to the promotion, but with the way M-1 negotiates, it's probably more likely that pigs fly.
For Dan Henderson, at 40 years old, he may be as highly ranked in the pound for pound lists as he has ever been in his career. He's now scored three incredible knockouts in a row, each one more impressive than the last. He's going to take a two week vacation and then it's time to negotiate a new contract. The victory over Emelianenko was the last fight on his Strikeforce deal that was scoring him $800,000 per fight. He will not be getting that again.
Expect Henderson, after signing a new deal, to potentially defend his belt against the Muhammed Lawal - Roger Gracie winner while the rest of the division continues to sort itself out. A super-fight against the UFC champion isn't out of the question either, but if Rashad Evans defeats Tito Ortiz this upcoming Saturday at UFC 133, the UFC will have no dearth of light heavyweight title challengers for the next six months. Henderson lastly didn't rule out another heavyweight fight, but he doesn't want to face the monsters of the division who have to cut weight to make 265. The future is full of possibilities for "Hendo."
So what do you think, Maniacs?
What did you think of Henderson's incredible comeback performance last night? Will Fedor fight again?