Herb Dean's now-infamous stoppage during the main event of "Strikeforce and M-1 Global: Fedor vs. Henderson" has generated an enormous amount of controversy since the incident took place on Saturday. A rather vocal group believe the referee's call was made too soon, and that while Fedor Emelianenko was clearly on the ropes, he was still making a visible effort to reverse the position. Others believe that the stoppage was unavoidable, and that had Dean not blocked Dan Henderson's barrage from the top, the situation could have quickly turned dire.
Regardless of which side of the argument fans tend to fall on, the message from Dean was clear: Fedor was unconscious. That was all the proof the man UFC president Dana White once called "the best referee in the business" needed Saturday night, and remained all the proof he needed after re-watching the tape throughout the weekend.
"The fight is over when he's unconscious," Dean said to MMAjunkie.com on Monday. "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," he continued. "I believe his motor control was still questionable."
Emelianenko dropped facedown to the canvas after an abrupt Dan Henderson uppercut during a scramble in the first round. The 34-year-old Russian quickly recovered and rolled onto his back, but by that time the match was over.
The ensuing heartbreak felt by an adoring MMA community quickly transformed into frenzied indignation at the sight of their fallen icon. Yet, regardless of public opinion, Dean stands by his decision.
"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," he concluded. "I can't predict how long he's going to be unconscious for."