While the main event of the Strikeforce/M-1 Global: Dan Henderson vs. Fedor Emelianenko fight card turned out to be an entertaining MMA contest, Strikeforce announcer Gus Johnson’s attempt to blame referee Herb Dean for Fedor’s misfortune, left a bad taste in my mouth.
To make things worse, Fedor took the bait, agreeing with Johnson that the MMA fight was stopped prematurely.
“I think [the stoppage] was early. I don’t want to say anything bad about the referee or anything, but it seems to me it was early,” Fedor told Johnson via his interpreter after the fight. “I was clearly hit, but I wasn’t hit flush and directly. I think I could have continued, but the referee decided to stop it.”
While the sport of MMA has had its share of controversial stoppages, it’s hard to criticize Herb Dean’s decision to stop the fight. After eating a big Henderson uppercut from behind, Fedor’s body went limp for a moment. The follow up punches by Henderson weren’t even necessary, as Fedor didn’t make any intelligent attempts to defend himself.
“If I was to do it again — if I see a fighter face down receiving shots, I’m going to step in and stop the fight.” Herb Dean said in an interview with MMAWeekly.com. “I can’t predict how long he’s going to be unconscious for. The fight is over when he’s unconscious. Because he comes back swiftly after I’ve already stepped in and stopped the fight, I can’t restart the fight. Dan’s still throwing punches, but once I’ve touched Dan, I’ve stopped the fight.”
MMA referees have a hard enough job, and I don’t like the way Johnson (Strikeforce) threw Dean under the bus. While it’s in the promotion’s best interest to preserve Fedor’s image, they are better ways to go about it. Fedor didn’t look bad for a moment during the fight, and the MMA legend shouldn’t be ashamed of the results.