Referee Saw Shogun Shutting Down Against Henderson

By Sherdog.com Staff Dec 7, 2011
After dropping the first three rounds to Dan Henderson at UFC 139, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua showed incredible heart to win the fourth and fifth.

According to referee Josh Rosenthal, however, the bout almost didn’t make it into the later rounds.

“There were a couple of moments where I was seriously considering stopping the fight,” Rosenthal told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “It’s Time” show with Bruce Buffer. “I had actually at one point given Shogun a ‘fight back’ command because I saw him shutting down.”

Henderson landed a huge right hand in the third round. Rua dropped, and Henderson swarmed him with follow-up punches. It was then that Rosenthal considered stepping in.

“[Rua] turtled up and he basically put his hands on top of his head in what I call a hostage position,” Rosenthal said. “I saw him shutting down, so I gave him the ‘fight back’ command and as soon as I did that, that’s when he tried to sweep Dan and ended up getting into that footlock scramble. He answered the command and took back the control of the fight.”

On “The Savage Dog Show,” Henderson said he respected Rosenthal’s decision to let the fight continue but also questioned whether it was good for Rua’s health. Rosenthal explained that it’s a fine line and you have to know who the fighters are.

“Guys at that level, you have to take into consideration what their abilities are,” Rosenthal said. “We have the benefit of seeing them for so many years fighting and coming up that you can make that assessment based on their past performances. … I want to give them the best opportunity that they can have because they deserve it.”

Not only did Rua survive the third round, he took over in the fourth and might have deserved a 10-8 edge in the fifth. He still lost a unanimous decision, but his comeback made the fight a classic.

“I’ve been very lucky to be involved in a lot of great bouts,” Rosenthal said. “There’s certain bouts that just stick with you. I think [Henderson-Rua] is definitely going to be one of those fights for me.”

Listen to the full interview (beginning at 17:10).

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