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Fedor Emelianenko Disputes Referee's Decision After Tough Loss

Fedor EmelianenkoDan HendersonStrikeforce

main event. But Fedor -- the mixed martial arts legend always known by one name -- was also upset.

Emelianenko, the man who looked invincible in the ring and in the cage for a decade, said after his third consecutive loss that he believes referee Herb Dean stopped the fight and awarded the technical knockout victory to Henderson too quickly.

Asked if he thought Dean -- who's widely regarded as the best referee in MMA -- made a mistake, Fedor answered in the affirmative.

"It seems to me, yes, objectively, I was ready to continue fighting," Fedor said. "So, yes."

But few in attendance at the Sears Centre in suburban Chicago seemed to agree with Fedor's assessment. In MMA, the referee has to stop the fight immediately if a fighter can't defend himself, and there was a brief instant when Henderson hit Fedor hard in the chin, and Fedor went limp and fell face first into the canvas. Although Fedor recovered quickly and appeared prepared to defend himself, by that point Dean had already charged in to stop the bout.

For his part, Henderson said the punch he landed to Fedor's chin was a simple example of seeing an opening and taking advantage.

"I saw an opening for a nice uppercut when he was on his hands and knees and that just dropped him," Henderson said. "I don't think he was expecting that at that time."

And Henderson said there's no doubt in his mind that Dean did the right thing, and that if Dean hadn't stepped in at that moment, Henderson would have finished Fedor soon enough.

"You'd have to ask Herb Dean about it," Henderson said. "I thought it was a pretty good stoppage. I wasn't going anywhere if the ref didn't push me off. It would have been done pretty quick anyway."

Strikeforce promoter Scott Coker said that he was watching the fight just like a fan, and that he thought Dean did exactly the right thing in jumping in to stop the fight as soon as Fedor went limp on the ground.

"When I watched the main event, I watched it with everybody here," Coker said. "It looked like when Dan hit him with the uppercut it flattened Fedor out, he was hurt, he was injured and so the referee did the right thing. . . . It was a correct stoppage."

Fedor seemed puzzled afterward about what has gone wrong in his MMA career, but he also cautioned his fans that they have to accept that he wasn't going to remain the undisputed top fighter in the world forever.

"I'm not a machine," Fedor said. "I'm not a robot. There are good moments and bad moments."

For Fedor, Herb Dean's stoppage was a bad moment. But that doesn't make it a bad call.

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