Henderson Finishes Emelianenko in Upset Win

Dan Henderson

Dan Henderson defeated Fedor Emelianenko

Henderson’s win over Fedor the biggest of his career

Dan Henderson is considered by many to be one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time. On Saturday night, Henderson knocked out the man many consider to be the greatest heavyweight fighter in the history of the sport.

Facing a distinct size advantage going into the cage, Henderson – a natural middleweight who fights at light heavyweight in Strikeforce – wasted very little time in going after Fedor Emelianenko. The Russian played his part in shaping the dramatic first round, exchanging wild punches with Henderson in one of the better opening sequences you’ll ever see.

After slowing down the fight by clinching Emelianenko against the cage, Henderson finally separated. Emelianenko pounced, dropping Henderson to his knees with a right hand. It appeared that Emelianenko was on the verge of finishing Henderson when the American suddenly popped up, moved to Emelianenko’s right side and unleashed a right uppercut that dropped Emelianenko face-first to the canvas. A few punches later and referee Herb Dean stepped in to stop the fight.

The finish was not without controversy. Emelianenko, usually stoic and willing to comply with any decision in the cage, said after the fight that he believed it was an early stoppage. Emelianenko woke up after the initial knockdown, but Henderson’s ground and pound ensured that the fight would not last much longer.

Emelianenko nearly retired after his loss to Antonio Silva, but refused to commit to his future when asked by Gus Johnson after the fight, only saying that God would tell him what to do. The former PRIDE champion has lost three consecutive fights and has been finished in each of them. His Strikeforce contract expired with this fight, and given the failed negotiation history between his handlers at M-1 Global and Strikeforce parent company Zuffa, it’s very likely that we’ve seen the last of the legendary Russian in a major North American mixed martial arts promotion.

Henderson’s contract also expired with tonight’s fight. He said that he’d like to continue defending his Strikeforce light heavyweight title, but a move to the UFC seems like the most logical thing at this point in time. The win over Emelianenko may not do anything for Henderson’s standing in the light heavyweight division, but it makes him more marketable than he’s likely ever been in his career.

Other action: Miesha Tate captured the Strikeforce bantamweight title with a submission win over Marloes Coenen in the fourth round…Tim Kennedy outworked Robbie Lawler for a decision victory…Tyron Woodley took the next step in his development by beating Paul Daley by decision…Tarec Saffiedine battered Scott Smith for a landslide decision win.