In a little more than four minutes, Dan
may have wiped away what was left of the mystique
surrounding former Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight king
Henderson (28-8, 3-1 SF) brought a violent end to a brief but
violent fight, as he stopped the Russian icon on first-round
punches in the
Strikeforce/M-1 Global “Fedor vs. Henderson” headliner on
Saturday at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Ill. A series of
right hands from the two-time Olympian and former two-division
Pride champion polished off Emelianenko and forced referee Herb Dean to
intervene on his behalf 4:12 into round one.
“I’ve been a huge fan of Fedor’s forever,” Henderson (Pictured,
File Photo) said. “I respect him so much. That’s a huge
accomplishment compared to a lot of the things I’ve done.”
With that, a man many consider to be the greatest heavyweight mixed
martial artist of all-time had lost for the third time in as many
appearances, leading to intensifying speculation that “The Last
Emperor” may have fought his last fight.
“As a fan of Fedor’s,” Henderson said, “I hope he keeps
Emelianenko (31-4, 1 NC, 1-3 SF) rushed forward from the opening
bell, stalking his opponent in aggressive fashion. Henderson
unleashed under fire, connected with a left hook and followed it
with a right that backed up the Russian and slowed his attack. The
blows left visible damage on Emelianenko’s right eye, and the two
spent an extended period in the clinch, perhaps gathering
themselves for another push.
When the two broke apart, Emelianenko swarmed Henderson with
punches, driving him to the mat and into a vulnerable position.
However, Henderson scrambled up from the bottom, broke free and
cracked Emelianenko with a wicked right uppercut, shooting the
punch from behind and dropping the legend face first on the canvas.
More blows followed, as a dazed Emelianenko rolled to his back and
Dean stepped in.
“At the end of the fight, he hit me with a little uppercut. I was
aware the whole time, and I just kept going,” Henderson said. “I’m
trying not to get hit and then trying to recover and get back up on
top. That’s something I do all the time in practice, and I don’t
think he was expecting that punch to come up [from]
The fight was the last on Henderson’s current contract. A winner in
three straight bouts, the 40-year-old has not yet defended the
light heavyweight title he won from Rafael
“Feijao” Cavalcante in March.
“We’ll see what happens,” Henderson said. “I’d like to defend that
belt in Strikeforce, but, right now, it’s all up to Strikeforce and
Zuffa. I’m just going to enjoy this victory for a while.”
Tate submitted Marloes
Coenen with a fourth-round arm-triangle choke to capture the
women’s welterweight championship in the co-main event. The
competitive fight came to a dramatic close 3:03 into round
Tate (12-2, 5-1 SF) controlled vast stretches of the encounter with
takedowns, top control and sporadic ground-and-pound, as she
exposed the glaring vulnerability in Coenen’s game. She scored with
takedowns in rounds one, three and four and avoided prolonged
danger in the second. In that round, Coenen transitioned to Tate’s
back in a scramble, cinched a body lock and searched for a
rear-naked choke for more than three minutes. Those attempts
failed, breathing new life and renewed belief into the
In the fourth round, Tate landed a takedown, defended a guillotine
choke and passed to side mount. She glided seamlessly to the choke,
cleared her legs and tightened her grip on victory. Coenen (19-5,
3-2 SF) tried to free herself, but her efforts were in vain and she
reluctantly tapped out. The 30-year-old
Golden Glory standout had never before been submitted in a
career that spans more than a decade.
“I couldn’t have asked for anything better,” Tate said. “She had
never been submitted, and that’s what I came in here to do. She’s
really tough. I told everyone I wasn’t going to come in here with
such a [rigid] game plan. If I saw an opportunity, I was going to
take it, and I did.”
Kennedy File Photo
Kennedy is closing in on a title shot.
Kennedy moved one step closer to a rematch with Strikeforce
middleweight champion Ronaldo
“Jacare” Souza, as he outworked and outhustled Robbie
Lawler en route to a unanimous verdict on the scorecards in a
185-pound showcase. All three judges scored it 30-27 in Kennedy’s
The underrated Kennedy was dogged in his pursuit of the takedown,
which led to a wild first-round scramble between the two.
Ultimately, he forced Lawler to the ground, passed guard into side
control and moved to mount with roughly half a minute to go. Lawler
escaped, but the tone had been set and Kennedy’s intentions were
clear. An uppercut from Lawler (19-7, 1 NC, 2-4 SF) opened a nasty
gash on the bridge of Kennedy’s nose in round two, but the Special
Forces veteran was not dissuaded. He secured another takedown and
worked his ground-and-pound from inside Lawler’s guard, leaking
blood as he went.
Lawler’s offensive output was virtually non-existent in the third
round, and though he was visibly fatigued, Kennedy managed another
takedown. He polished off the victory, his sixth in seven
appearances, with elbows to the head and punches to the body of his
“He bloodied me up for [my takedown attempts],” Kennedy said. “I’m
glad the judges see that it’s just blood. I’m in here; I’m going to
get cut. I’m going to fight to the end. Robbie is a tough guy. I
think this is the first time I’ve ever won a decision.”
Afterward, Kennedy (14-3, 5-1 SF) made it clear he wanted another
crack at Souza, the man who defeated him by unanimous decision 11
months ago. Kennedy still disputes the verdict.
“I’m ready to go,” he said. “Let’s [have the title fight] right
now. I won it last time. I’m going to try to win every fight by
knockout or submission, because that’s how I fight.”
Two-time NCAA wrestling All-American Tyron
Woodley used a familiar recipe -- takedowns, clinch work and
top control -- to get past the always-dangerous Paul Daley in
a welterweight title eliminator. The unbeaten
American Top Team representative swept the scorecards by
matching 29-28 counts.
Woodley (9-0, 7-0 SF) moved to clinch almost immediately, attacking
Daley with punches to the body and knees to the thighs. However, he
landed only two takedowns in the fight, the first of which was not
achieved until some 75 seconds had expired in the second round.
Woodley operated successfully from inside Daley’s guard for more
than three minutes, but the ground work seemed to take a toll on
both men. After a restart, a winded Woodley retreated to his back
and absorbed a few standing-to-ground blows from the
Team Rough House standout.
Having worked hard to secure a lead, Woodley needed the edge in the
third round. He cracked Daley with a beautiful knee from the clinch
inside the first minute and delivered his second takedown. Unable
to damage his foe, Woodley again found himself under heavy fire
from the aggressive Brit. Punches and knees flew. Daley (27-11-2,
2-2 SF), revered as one of the game’s premier strikers, even threw
in an attempted omaplata attempt from his back in round three.
Still, it was not enough to dig out of the two-round hole.
Fast-rising Belgian Tarec
Saffiedine picked apart Scott Smith
for three rounds and claimed a one-sided unanimous decision from
the UFC veteran in a featured welterweight matchup. Saffiedine
(11-3, 3-1 SF) swept the scorecards -- 30-26, 30-27 and 30-27 -- in
what can only be described as an utterly complete performance.
Early low kicks from the
Team Quest representative left Smith stationery and easy to
hit. Alternating between an orthodox and southpaw stance,
Saffiedine battered Smith with wide-ranging strikes: straight
lefts, knees from the clinch, punch-kick combinations and vicious
short elbows. He was at his best in the second round, when he
buckled Smith with a right hook roughly 90 seconds in and patiently
pecked away at him near the cage. Later, he drove Smith to the
canvas with a head kick and another right hand, wheeled around to
his back and briefly worked for a choke. Smith escaped, only to be
met by further punishment when the two returned to their feet.
Saffiedine kept his distance in the third round. Still, he cracked
his beaten foe -- blood trickling from a cut in between his left
eyebrow and eyelid -- with a straight left to the face and a
spinning-back kick to the body. Smith (17-9, 1 NC, 3-4 SF), a
32-year-old Reno, Nev., native, now finds himself on a three-fight
losing streak for the first time in his career.
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