Strikeforce: "Fedor vs. Henderson" from the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Ill., has officially come to a close.
So too, has perhaps the legendary career of Fedor Emelianenko, who suffered his third straight defeat with a first round technical knockout loss to Dan Henderson. It was the first time ever in his illustrious career, 35 professional mixed martial arts (MMA) bouts, that the "Last Emperor" was finished via strikes.
If it is Emeliaenko's last appearance, the once-feared Russian went down in a blaze of glory.
He immediately came out aggressive, swinging for the fences the moment the fight started, but quickly retreated when 'Hendo" clipped him with a short inside hook. It was a furious and wild exchange to start the three-round, non-title "super fight" between the two former Pride FC champions.
The super-charged action then died down for a bit when the pair locked up against the fence for several minutes, but then just like that, it quickly picked right back up. Emelianenko unloaded a flurry of strikes that sent Henderson to the canvas, ducking for cover and looking for a way out fast.
The Greco Roman wrestler found it, slipping out the the back door to get behind Emelianenko, but before getting to his feet fully, Henderson uncorked a brutal uppercut from behind that made his opponent go limp. Henderson got in a few more shots, mostly to the back of the head, before the referee stepped in to save the fallen champion.
It was a surreal, thrilling sequence that will be remembered forever.
Emelianenko claimed that the stoppage was too soon, but replays show otherwise. He was out, and immediately after the stoppage, ringside announcer Frank Shamrock even compared his state to a "drunken monkey."
Perhaps the "controversial" claim will compel Emelianenko to give it one more shot before calling it quits, but with his contract with the Zuffa-owned promotion now expired, it may be under his M-1 Global banner.
Thanks for the memories.
Mainstream female MMA is/was on the chopping block with Zuffa's recent acquisition of Strikeforce, meaning that the co main event that featured 135-pound champion Marloes Coenen and number one contender Miesha Tate was under the microscope.
The lovely ladies turned in a technical performance for three rounds, with neither of them willing to make the costly mistake that could lead to a loss. Coenen worked her stand up and submissions, while Tate went for takedowns to leverage her superior wrestling skills.
It appeared those skills might have done Tate in when "Rumina" reversed a takedown and immediately transitioned it into a dangerous submission. She worked the postion, on the back of Tate, for the better part of the round, but "Takedown" avoided the finish and survived to see another one.
Did she ever.
In the fourth frame, the beginning of the "championship rounds," Tate demonstrated that she had what it took to assume the mantle of responsibility that comes along with being a female champion. She scored a takedown, set up an arm triangle choke, hopped over Coenen and squeezed her lights out en route to a quick tapout.
Tate showed resilience, talent and class in her winning performance. She looked pretty damn good doing it, too.
Tim Kennedy and Robbie Lawler squared off in a middleweight bout that likely had contender implications on the line. Both men dropped fights to reigning champion, Ronaldo Souza, and both of them likely wanted nothing more than the opportunity to exact revenge sooner rather than later.
So sorry, Robbie.
Kennedy came out aggressive and stayed that way for the entire 185-pound showdown. He slipped punches, countered and dove for takedowns early and often. Lawler seemed intent on avoiding the canvas at all costs, sprawling, brawling and exploding out of takedowns at every possible opportunity.
But the relentless, hard-charging attack of Kennedy was the ultimate decision maker. He didn't give up, despite getting busted up and eating a few a knuckle sandwiches. He pressed the action, while "Ruthless" bobbed and weaved, seemingly waiting, and waiting, and waiting some more, to land that one big shot.
It never came. And neither will that rematch with "Jacare."
Paul Daley, the striker, took on Tyron Woodley, the wrestler, in a pivotal 170-pound match up after division champion Nick Diaz recently vacated the belt and accepted a fight with UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St. Pierre later this year. The winner would likely earn a shot to challenge for the up-for-grabs crown against, er, someone -- it's anyone's guess with the promotion's welterweight talent pool being so incredibly shallow at the moment.
With the exception of "T-Wood's" willingness to stand with "Semtex," and "Semtex's" solid defense of "T-Wood's" All-American-caliber takedowns to start the fight, it pretty much went as predicted … until the final 60 seconds, anyway. Woodley, who for the most part avoided the lethal lefts of the British knockout artist, implemented his gameplan to a tee. He dodged the big punches and took the bout to the ground to neutralize his opponent's biggest strength.
In fact, with the exception of an omoplata submission attempt in the waning seconds of the fight, of all things, Woodley was never in trouble. He dictated the pace of the bout pretty much from bell-to-bell to earn a very important unanimous decision.
Who's next? Who knows.
Scott Smith came into tonight riding back-to-back bad losses, including a body kick finish thanks to Cung Le and a crushing knockout courtesy of Paul Daley. "Hands of Steel," making just his second appearance at 170 pounds, needed another Hail Mary to steer himself out of a dangerous career skid.
Unfortunately, he ended up in a ditch. And he didn't even bareknuckle it.
Smith seemed to sleepwalk through the first two rounds, failing to demonstrate any sense of urgency. His opponent, Tarec Saffiedine, looked fresher, faster and hungrier throughout the entire 15-minute fight. In fact, he made it look easy.
"Sponge" battered Smith, who at times looked so slow it wouldn't be a surprise to learn later that he was sedated or sick, at essentially every twist and turn of the welterweight contest. Short elbows, creative kicks and an array of flashy strikes all found their marks and did bloody damage.
Not only were they enough to earn the Belgian fighter a very easy decision over Smith, but they also might have sent him packing. Three consecutive defeats is the death knell in Zuffa's Brave New MMA World. It would be a shock if Smith somehow survives it … even though his past experiences, win or lose, have to count for something.
Then again, maybe not.
That's a wrap from the "Windy City," Maniacs. Now it's time to share your thoughts on everything that went down tonight inside the cage.
Best and worst of tonight's action? Wil Fedor fight again? Does Women's MMA have a future?
For complete Strikeforce: "Fedor vs. Henderson" results and play-by-play coverage of the televised main card click here.