Fedor Emelianenko came out swinging. Dan Henderson did the same. After an exciting start to the Strikeforce heavyweight showcase bout Saturday night, it ended just as fast, just as explosive.
And it was the first time in his well-decorated career that Emelianenko was knocked out.
Henderson got hit with a big shot from Emelianenko late in the first round and went to the ground. Emelianenko charged in on Henderson who was on the ground near the cage.
Henderson recovered and used Emelianenko's leg to sneak out the back and get position behind "The Last Emperor." Henderson landed a huge right uppercut that Emelianenko never saw coming. The punch flattened him. Henderson landed a few shots to the head and referee Herb Dean stopped the fight with 48 seconds left in the first round.
"I was aware the whole time, I just felt it sting a little" Henderson said about the punch from Emelianenko (31-4).
It was the last fight in Henderson's contract with Strikeforce. What happens next for the Strikeforce light heavyweight champion depends on negotiations. "I'd like to defend that belt in Strikeforce," Henderson said. "I got it, so I'd like to defend it."
For Emelianenko, this was his third straight loss, the first two coming by submission to Fabricio Werdum in June 2010 and by stoppage to Antonio Silva after the second round during the Strikeforce Grand Prix last February.
Emelianenko weighed in Friday at 223 pounds, the lightest he's been for a fight in quite some time. Carrying the lesser weight against the 207-pound Henderson didn't make much of a difference when that uppercut landed.
"I think it was early," Emelianenko, 34, said through a translator about the referee's stoppage. "I don't want to say anything bad about the referee but it seems it was early."
There was nothing early about the stoppage. Emelianenko was planted face-first in the mat and not intelligently defending himself. Heck, he wasn't even idiotically defending himself.