Dan Henderson: I think I showed good sportsmanship

I haven’t had much to say about the crazy knockout Henderson unleashed on Bisping at UFC 100 or the late punch that followed it. Here’s why: while I was perfectly okay with the late punch, once I tried to logically justify it in radio or blog form I just couldn’t figure out how. It’s kinda like watching pregger porn. You know it’s wrong, but it just feels so right.

But now here’s Dan Henderson laying the whole thing out in an extremely reasonable manner, and he drives home a very simple concept: fighters keep fighting until the ref stops them. From MMA Junkie:

“It wasn’t the right thing to say, obviously,” Henderson said on Tuesday. “It wasn’t what I wanted to say. It was more of a joke that I was trying to intend. I do have a good sense of humor, and that probably didn’t come out quite as funny as it should have.”

Henderson said he didn’t, in fact, know Bisping was knocked out cold. (In a post-event press conference, UFC president Dana White said that Henderson told him the same thing and had apologized for his comments.)

“It wasn’t intentional,” Henderson said. “I didn’t know he was completely knocked out or done until after that second punch, and that’s exactly when I stopped. And I’ve hit guys just as hard almost right on the button like that (first shot), and they fall down, and the fight continues because maybe I didn’t land the second shot right or the ref feels like that [my opponent] is still able to defend himself and he squeaks past and holds on. But I didn’t want that to happen. That’s why I was on him so quick with the second punch.”

During a 12-year career spent mostly with the UFC and PRIDE, Henderson said he’s learned to finish opponents once they’re in a vulnerable state. Besides, he said, in that split second between the time the first punch landed and he reared up for the second, he didn’t have to assess Bisping’s state.

“It’s instinct,” he said. “Obviously, I knew I had him hurt bad, but you never know if the fight is going to be finished right then and there until the ref steps in. … I wanted to shut him up completely and good and wanted to make sure the ref stopped the fight.

“If I’m standing up not making him vulnerable for shots and not striking, he doesn’t have to defend himself. The ref might not stop it. With me adding one more punch to it, he has to step in and stop the fight no matter what. So I didn’t know he was completely out until the second punch landed. There wasn’t time to really think about the pros and cons of whether I should hit him again or not. It’s too close. I did what I was supposed to do in that fight and at the end as well to finish it. That’s what every fighter is trained to do, is finish the fight. I felt like I showed good sportsmanship by stopping right then and there. I didn’t try to continue after the ref stopped it like a lot of fighters have done. That’s just what I tried to joke about afterward and that’s what people have a problem with.”

That’s a pretty good explanation right there, but I still like having the emotional “Blame karma, because Bisping earned it, bitch!” response in my back pocket. What can I say, I’m a classy fan.

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