I watch a Fedor fight every Sunday to recognize and respect The Last Emperor’s faith, and I can’t think of a better way to kick off this Sunday with the new site design and all than with Fedor Vs. Hendo. Why celebrate and honor Fedor with a viewing of a loss, you ask? Well, I was cageside for this fight on July 30th, 2011, and I can’t think of many more fights that make my palms sweat as badly as this one. It’s special to me.
I can tell you this my friends, I remember that Saturday night clear as crystal and at the same time I felt like my head was a fishbowl. The Russians were packed in the Hoffman Estates arena. I remember right behind me Joe Warren and a bunch of other dudes firmly behind Hendo were wearing red whit and blue and in a shouting match with a bunch of heroically drunk Russians clad head to toe in solid red. I remember thinking to myself ‘props to Hendo for all of them wearing Clinch Gear’ then Hendo’s music kicked in, Stephen Quadros sat down to my left, Zeus ahead of me and bunch of random media to my right. Hendo walks out, the crowd is loud as hell, and then Fedor walks out. Let me just say right now that regardless of your feelings for his heir as one of the GOAT fighters, you will feel the aura of Fedor. As soon as that Russian anthem kicks and you see him, looking down stoically and oblivious to the near hysteria his expressionless face is causing. The crowd’s voices merge together and turned into a hiss. I remember thinking as both of them had their names announced in an almost comically long breakdown of their combined accomplishments that the fight wouldn’t happen. Ninjas would be invading from the rafters soon, or as Zeus said before the fight he fully expected the earth to open under Hoffman Estates and swallow us all during the fight. No way we were going to witness Fedor Vs. Hendo ten feet from the cage. Fedor Vs. Hendo!
The fight starts, I make a strange cry/howl Stephen Quadros looks at me for a brief second. Then, all eyes in the arena are on the Strikeforce cage. Punches are thrown so hard by the two legends the bangs on wide-eyed children in the mezzanine get blown back a little bit. Quickly after a brief exchange that seemed like it lasted forever, Hendo puts Fedor’s back against the cage. Methodically, and way harder than I remember them being when I was there live, Hendo drives his knee into Fedor’s leg repeatedly. This goes on for a few minutes with Hendo not able to do much with the position, but wears out Fedor a bit I’m sure. By this time my back is getting sweaty and I’m becoming self conscious. Just then, Hendo breaks off Fedor, misses a huge hook and the Last Emperor steps forward and resets looking to do damage. Both of them clash again, the crowd rising around me, Fedor swings, Hendo is down, I remember opening my mouth but making no noise. What? Hendo’s down? I can’t see? What’s happening!? Hendo?! He’s up? What?! Fedor?! WHOA!?
Scott Coker and Zeus look at each other with O-faces, Hendo is on top of the cage screaming, everything else after that is a complete blank. Man.