Saturday’s Strikeforce main event between Dan Henderson and Fedor Emelianenko ended in controversy after referee Herb Dean stopped the fight in the opening round following a burst of punches from Henderson moments after he put Emelianenko face down on the canvas.
Emelianenko questioned the stoppage after quickly recovering, but Dean said Monday on The MMA Hour that he remains comfortable with his decision even after watching replays, which included several questionable punches near the back of the head.
“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. “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.”
Dean said that although he had to make the decision instantly, he watched the replay of the stoppage and stands by his decision with the benefit of hindsight.
“When I made my decision to stop the fight, Fedor was face down, unconscious,” Dean said. “When I touched Dan, Fedor was still face down. Once I touch him the fight is over. I saw punches that may have been close. But I wouldn’t have called those fouls because the way the action was moving, I couldn’t say that he intentionally targeted that area. Fedor was unconscious and unable to defend himself.”