Did Henderson vs. dos Anjos Get Stopped Too Early or Not?
Posted by Lorenzo Vasquez III on 08.28.2014
Was Rafael dos Anjos' KO victory over Benson Henderson on Saturday night an early stoppage? Henderson and others others feel that the stoppage was premature, so 411's Lorenzo Vasquez III takes a look at why they're wrong!
There's nothing that stirs up controversy quite like an early stoppage or bad decision. Saturday night's fight between Benson Henderson and Rafael dos Anjos seemed to be an instance of the former. As UFC fight Night 49 approached it was widely speculated Henderson would make easy work of opponent dos Anjos in the night's main event. Usually, at the mention of Henderson stepping into the octagon with anyone other than Anthony Pettis, it can be safely assumed that we can either expect a dominating five round fight or a razor thin close decision victory. However, with dos Anjos, credit wasn't given its due where it was deserved. I even felt dos Anjos would be such an easy task for Henderson that he'd score a stoppage victory over the Brazilian. Rafael dos Anjos wasn't going to have any of such talk! He knew his abilities and exposed a weakness in Henderson's game leading to a KO victory in the first round in spite of what many are calling an early stoppage.
In hindsight, it's easy to see why dos Anjos scored the upset. One of Henderson's weaknesses is his striking is not technical enough to deal with pressure in the pocket. Exposing this flaw must have been part of dos Anjos' game plan. The Brazilian kept forward pressure and eventually connected with a flying knee which led Henderson to try for an unsuccessful takedown. As Henderson stood up dos Anjos connected with a solid left hook flush against the chin dropping the former champ. Two shots later and Big John McCarthy called a stop to the action declaring dos Anjos the victor. The crowd's immediate reaction was in opposition to the stoppage and Henderson rose and protested the stoppage with McCarthy claiming it was premature.
It was a good call
Although, Henderson protested the stoppage, he accepted it and took the loss as a man giving credit to dos Anjos. Yet, despite this, as mentioned above many fans and fighters alike still feel the fight ended prematurely but here is why it was a good call. In regards to the fight itself, Henderson's legs gave out after taking the left hook to the chin. Flash knock out or not, he fell back to the canvas and was out momentarily allowing dos Anjos to connect with two more solid shots before McCarthy dove in to stop the fight. Prior to that Henderson was dazed by the flying knee. If you back track a bit more prior to the knee you'll see that dos Anjos was beginning to out strike Henderson. All indications point, that had the fight not been stopped, dos Anjos would have likely ended it with strikes on the ground, regardless.
Now, Henderson can claim all he wants that he was recovering and about to make an effort to go for a single leg and turn dos Anjos' back to cage, but, there is no doubt the underdog would have continued to unleash a chain of vicious strikes. I just don't believe dos Anjos would have allotted Henderson the time to recover and adjust. Had McCarthy not stopped the fight at the moment in which he did, he most likely would have a moment later, ending the fight with the same results. It is also worth mentioning Henderson did not begin to recover until McCarthy was over him and he did seem out of it momentarily between the ref's legs. Therefore, in those regards, the stoppage is really nothing to cry about.
Further, the stoppage was also a good call because more importantly it prevented Henderson from potentially taking unnecessary punches to the head. It is no secret that repeated hits to the head of combat athletes lead to brain deterioration. Henderson at the least suffered a flash knock out which is more than enough to cause brain injury. It's the referee's job to prevent unnecessary blows to fighters and that is what McCarthy did. People will argue that Henderson should have been given a chance to recover but as I explained earlier it most likely wasn't going to happen and yes that is considering the unpredictability of MMA. Furthermore, it is a bit selfish to say the fight should have continued.
Such thought only considers the entertainment value of a fight and not the overall value of the fighter and their safety. Yes, there have been fights in the past were a fighter was given the chance to recover thus changing the outcome of the fight, Frankie Edgar vs. Gray Maynard comes to mind. However, that doesn't mean it needs to be repeated, especially, if we take a fighters health into consideration. Fighters are tough beings and sometimes they don't know when enough is enough. Thus, the line must be drawn and what constitutes a KO or TKO stoppage must be made clear if we are to add value to the sport and safety of the fighters.