The Hendo Alarm Clock ($19.95): Guaranteed to wake you up from the deepest of sleeps. (Pic: Strikeforce.com)
Waking up this morning I had no idea of the war being waged in comment sections and MMA forums throughout the night. I should have expected it, really, given the inexplicable fervor with which fans both exalt and denounce Fedor Emelianenko. My two cents on the stoppage: Dan Henderson hit Fedor with several full-force, illegal punches to the back of the head. They were to the back of the head because Fedor’s face was buried in the canvas. They were full-force force because Fedor’s arms lied limply at his sides, gently tucked below his slightly-less-chubby-than-usual torso. We can argue about “The Last Emperor” recovering and rolling over as Henderson was waived off, but there’s no debating what led referee Herb Dean to step in. Watch it in slow motion, watch it a lot.
That’s all the time I’ll devote to the main event; both men’s legacies were built long before they entered Hoffman Estates, and what transpired last night did little to change that. The real story is what’s ahead for last night’s winners and losers, and where Strikeforce as an organization is headed.
Dan Henderson picked up what he considers to be his greatest victory ever last night, but beyond the added notch in his win-column he may not have much reason to celebrate. The Strikeforce Light Heavyweight champion completed his contract with last night’s match, and though a champion sitting down at the negotiation table on the heels of a dramatic win should hold a fair amount of bargaining power, there’s no doubt he’s in store for a sizable pay cut. Zuffa previously released him quite simply because they didn’t feel he was worth the money he demanded. It’s true that he wasn’t a champion at that time, but he was in an organization that values their champions.
Having a belt in Strikeforce means very little these days. You’ve got champions getting cut, champions walking away, and champions begging for a fucking fight. Never has the UFC been in such a position, but that’s because the UFC plans to grow as an organization. Strikeforce has no such plans, so Henderson’s value to the promotion is limited. If he returns, he’ll do so for a much smaller payday. As for Fedor, his stock has dropped incredibly following his third straight defeat. Dana insists he was never that good to begin with, and it’s hard to imagine that opinion changed last night. Were he under a standard contract making standard pay, he might be kept around for name value alone, but with his M1-Strikeforce-Showtime contract menage-a-trios, you can pretty much assume that this is the last time he’ll be raiding the Strikeforce coffers.
Miesha Tate snatched the belt from Marloes Coenen in dramatic, unlikely fashion on the sport’s biggest gender-neutral stage, but even in celebration she must be questioning how many acts are left in this play. Dana White is adamant that there simply aren’t enough capable female fighters to sustain a truly competitive division. Whatever momentum had been built by Carano’s beauty and Cyborg’s beast was stalled by their lengthy absence from the cage. That doesn’t mean Strikeforce can’t still make some compelling match-ups, but sporadic female fights don’t equal active female divisions. Marloes Coenen and Miesha Tate will both have long careers in the sport, but where they’ll be fighting when Zuffa finishes its gradual digestion of Strikeforce is anyone’s guess.
If you’re keeping score at home: Overeem’s gone. Diaz has jumped to the UFC. Cyborg hasn’t fought in over a year and Gina in over two. This is likely Fedor’s last fight and Henderson isn’t sure to return either. I hope a lot of fighters from the Challengers series are ready to move up, because Strikeforce’s greatest assets are moving on.
Full results (via MMAJunkie.com):
OFFICIAL MAIN CARD RESULTS
Dan Henderson def. Fedor Emelianenko via TKO (punches) – Round 1, 4:12
Miesha Tate def. Marloes Coenen via submission (arm-triangle choke) – Round 4, 3:03 (to become new women’s bantamweight champion)
Tim Kennedy def. Robbie Lawler via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Tyron Woodley def. Paul Daley via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Tarec Saffiedine def. Scott Smith via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
OFFICIAL PRELIMINARY CARD RESULTS
Gesias Cavalcante def. Bobby Green via split decision (29-28, 28-29, 29-28)
Tyler Stinson def. Eduardo Pamplona via knockout (punch) – Round 1, 0:15
Alexis Davis def. Julie Kedzie via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 30-27)
Derek Brunson def. Lumumba Sayers via submission (rear-naked choke) – Round 1, 4:33
Gabriel Salinas-Jones def. Bryan Humes via submission (D’Arce choke) – Round 3, 1:19