Herb Dean Stands By His Fedor vs. Henderson Stoppage

“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. 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… I stepped in to support him once he stood up because his balance was still not totally there. I believe his motor control was still questionable… Once I see an unconscious fighter receiving blows while unconscious, that’s my job to prevent him from receiving more blows, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

— Herb Dean explaining to MMA Junkie why he stopped the Fedor Emelianenko vs. Dan Henderson fight

I’m not gonna lie, when I watched the fight live, I was pissed. It was so out of the blue and happened so fast, I thought it was an early stoppage at first. After seeing all the replays though, I don’t think you can fault Herb Dean for the call he made. Hendo nailed Fedor with an uppercut and he went limp. In that split second, Dean committed to stopping the fight which in that split second was the correct call. Once a ref commits to stopping the fight, they have to stop it. The worse thing a ref can do is be indecisive and back off after they’ve made their move. That opens up a whole another can of worms and isn’t fair to either fighter.

As much as I wish Dean would have given it another second before he stepped in, the call he made was justified. It stinks knowing that Fedor was coherent enough to continue by the time Dean was able to push Hendo off — who knows, Fedor could have grabbed an arm and pulled off a miraculous armbar knowing him — but that doesn’t make Dean wrong for waving it off when he did.

These fights aren’t scripted. Not every finish can come in a perfectly wrapped box with a bow on top.

Image via James Law for MMA Fighting

  • Anonymous

    Herb Dean is the best ref in the sport.

  • Matt Silliman

    I agree with the stoppage. It’s just one of those things, Fedor went out and Herb did his job. He can’t predict how quick someone will wake up.

    Had he let the fight go on I wouldn’t have been upset either. But when you have a split second to decide it’s always gonna be tough

  • Pathetik

    Well written, Steve. 
    It was a frustrating stoppage, but it was the right call.

    • aalvarez

      I agree, a great point of view Steve. Bottom line is he went limp, Herb did what he felt was in the best interest of the fighter’s health at the time. 

  • sandman

    This is the Ultimate Fighting Championship, guys who train for the worst and try to overcome their opponent when in that situation. How many times does it seem like a guy is out, only to turn it around and be victorious? Refs have a tough job, but they need to understand what they are seeing. Dean needs to go to the school of Big John, the best in the business. 

    The fight itself was sloppy, from both fighters. Lately, Fedor has been looking like he’s trying to emulate Arlovski; he senses victory then gets careless and loses….

    • Lanfear

      This is Strikeforce, your opinion is worthless after a blunder like that.

      • sandman

        Same thing. Point being, these guys train for these situations in all MMA organizations. Last I checked, Strikeforce and UFC are under the same ownership. The level of professionalism is equivalent.  I think that makes my comments worthy….

  • I like sexy time

    Not a good decision Dean the guy did recover pretty much straight way! 

    • Lanfear

      He took 2 really hard, unanswered blows to the face. If Herb Dean had let it keep going, and Fedor didn’t wake up, then we would all be complaining about how Fedor nearly died to 6 unanswered shots.

      • I like sexy time

        Yes he could have died? Ya ok!

  • Noemail

    How can anyone say it was an early stoppage, he laid him out flat 2 hard hits to the back of the head. How many times have you people seen someone get knocked out and wake up ready 1 second later. Frank Trigg against koschek and Serra woke up right after.

    • Lanfear

      That is why I hate seeing Struve fight. He stays unconcious for like, half a second.

      • sandman

        Yet he manages to come back and win. You proved our point, but you’re too biased to recognize that….

  • ass

    that wasa a perfect stoppage,that russian ditch pig was out cold go hendo!

  • Fantom_539

    Fedor does have a history of comming back from the brink of defeat, so I can understand the argument that the fight was stopped too early. But it’s a ref job to protect the fighter and when Herb seen Fedor’s lights go out he stopped the fight and I have no argument against that. Yes Fedor came back to and seemed as if he may have been able to conitinue, but Dan was all over him dropping bombs and as Herb said, once he seen Fedor’s lights go out it was his job to stop the fight. I feel badly for the downturn of Fedor’s career, but in a round that has round of the year written all over it, Fedor lost fair and square.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adam-Lux/100002029301168 Adam Lux

    He’s absolutely right, Fedor only got a half chance to recover because Herb was intervening; Hendo would have just rained down more unanswered shots from guard otherwise & we’d see Fedor out cold… he should be pretty grateful people aren’t COMPLETELY writing him off as a top level fighter. M-1 have completely ruined Fedor, his training, his legacy & his earnings; it’s bullshit.

    Hendo is the Fkn man though!!

    • sandman

      Were you saying that when he lost to Silva???

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