It was NOT an early stoppage. Period.
It pains me as much as anyone to watch the man who is arguably the greatest mixed-martial artist of all time suffer his third straight loss ó the only blemishes on his record in the past decade.
But referee Herb Deanís first-round halt of the Strikeforce main event between Fedor Emelianenko and Dan Henderson on the weekend was well justified.
Emelianenko went limp after a heavy Henderson right that seemed to come from nowhere.
He began eating a couple of coffin nails when Dean stepped in to stop the bout.
Watch the replays, and you can see all the muscle resistance leave the Russianís limbs as he drops face first.
Had it been any other ref, there may be some wiggle room (though little, given the slow-motion replay) to argue the call.
But Dean ó a fighter himself ó is widely recognized as the best pinstripe in MMA.
There is no question it was the right call.
The question now, is what does the future hold for Prideís greatest champion?
Following the loss, the always-gracious 34-year-old said his future was in ďGodís hands.Ē
Some have suggested he should move down to the 205-pound class.
At 223 lbs. (in a weight class that tops out at 265 lbs.) Emelianenko has always been one of the smaller heavyweights ó though he did outweigh Henderson by 16 pounds in his last loss.
There are concerns that if he remains at heavyweight, it may be tough to lure a top-name challenger to take on a falling superstar.
And there have also been rumblings and mumblings that Emelianenko should just simply retire.
Hereís hoping he does anything but the latter.