To step in or not to step in, that’s the question. According to Herb Dean, who UFC president Dana White has dubbed as “The best referee in the business,” his split-second decision to stop Dan Henderson from mauling Fedor Emelianenko on Saturday night was justified.
“I saw Dan hit Fedor with a shot, Fedor fell down flat on his face, face down, his palms were facing up and I saw Dan continuing to punch,” Dean said Monday on The MMA Hour. “He hit him with, I believe, three punches, and I didn’t see Fedor doing any movement.
“It seemed to me he was unconscious. I came in to stop the fight.”
This indeed appears to be true. If you were to remove your Fedor fanboy goggles for just a moment, you’ll see the Russian was clearly asleep when he face planted into the canvas after eating an unexpected uppercut.
Emelianenko did regain consciousness after he received additional damage, but it was as though Henderson knocked Fedor’s senses back into him.
“When I made my decision to stop the fight, Fedor was face down, unconscious. When I touched Dan, Fedor was still face down. Once I touch him the fight is over,” Dean reiterated. “Fedor was unconscious and unable to defend himself.”
Once Dean decided he’d seen enough, it was a wrap. It’s not as though he could change his mind while pulling Henderson off of Emelianenko, then he’d be getting ridiculed for his indecisiveness, which would clearly have been a far worse crime to commit.
The other controversy surrounding the conclusion of the blockbuster bout were the follow up shots Henderson unleashed on what appeared to be the back of Emelianenko’s head. While the strikes were borderline illegal, Dean claims the action was far too fast and furious to be able to dissect without the benefit of instant replay.
“I saw punches that may have been close, but I wouldn’t have called those fouls because the way the action was moving.” Dean added. “I couldn’t say that he intentionally targeted that area.”
It can be argued that a fighter as decorated as Emelianenko is deserved a little bit more time to recover, but Dean decided to err on the side of caution instead – which is the first, second and third rule in MMA Refereeing 101.