Last Saturday, Fedor Emelianenko was defeated again.
This time, it was Dan Henderson‘s H-Bomb that left “The Last Emperor” with his face down on the canvas, as Herb Dean rushed in to stop the action 4:12 minutes into Round 1. Early stoppage or not, it was an amazing victory for Dan Henderson, who once again proved that he’s one of the all-time greats, just like his opponent that night, Fedor Emelianenko.
All three of Fedor’s previous opponents beat him at his own game.
Fedor’s elite SAMBO skills turned him into one of the most dangerous grapplers on the planet. Yet, he was trapped inside Fabricio Werdum‘s triangle, and eventually forced to tap out after just 69 seconds. Against Antonio Silva, Fedor faced a giant, and we all know that “The Last Emperor” made a career out of slaying bigger and stronger men. Not anymore. “Bigfoot” brutally pummeled Fedor out of the first round of Strikeforce Heavyweight GP.
Finally, Henderson had Fedor in the clinch for several minutes, but the much heavier Emelianenko was unable to use his legendary Judo throws to put the “All-American” on his back. Henderson later used a sweep Fedor would see from miles away in PRIDE; in what was a beginning of the end at Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.
For me, as a fan of Mixed Martial Arts, it was painful to watch. Fedor Emelianenko represents so many people, not only Eastern Europeans, and I’m sure that many fans around the world wanted to see him bouncing back from what would have been simply “bad luck” against Antonio Silva and Fabricio Werdum. But it wasn’t.
Mixed Martial Arts evolved, and left Fedor behind. “The Last Emperor” stayed the same fighter he was in PRIDE, minus the age factor and the natural drop in motivation, while Dan Henderson, who has exactly the same amount of fights and is, like I mentioned before, 6 (7 this August) years older, evolved his game to the point he’s still considered one of the best fighters on the planet. Training camps, training partners, nutrition, pharmacology… it’s hard to point a finger at something specific. The bottom line is still out there, written in bold – Fedor will struggle against anyone out of today’s Top 10 fighters, from Light Heavyweight to Heavyweight. It’s a new era with different rules.
Like I said many times before, there are a lot of people trying to re-write history by dismissing Fedor Emelianenko‘s legacy and his impact on Mixed Martial Arts. Like it or not, Fedor is one of the most influential figures in the history of this sport. His place in history as one of the greatest fighters (any type of combat sports) in history is set in stone.
The question is, what does Fedor want to do now? If Fedor wants to continue fighting, he has to face the facts and change his routine as a fighter by 180 degrees, and of course drop down to Light Heavyweight. You can’t be a successful fighter in today’s MMA with a tire around your waist. In case of retirement, Emelianenko can continue his work as a member of Belgorod Regional Parliament, coach young Russian up-and-coming MMA fighters or go full time into religion.
This way or another, whatever Fedor’s decision is, MMA fans around the world will still watch his fights in PRIDE, and remember Emelianenko Fedor as “The Last Emperor”.