The Countdown: Five most important fights in Fedor Emelianenko's careerPosted on June 4, 2012, 03:54 PM by Daniel Cassidy
On June 21st, a true Mixed Martial Arts legend takes to the cage for the final time. In less than three weeks time, Fedor Emelianenko fights Pedro Rizzo, in his retirement fight. Although recent losses may have harmed his legacy, Emelianenko is arguably the greatest MMA Heavyweight of all time, and is well worth considering when debating who is the Greatest fighter of all time. During his reign in Japan under PRIDE FC organization, no fighter was ever more feared, no titan more dreaded than "The Last Emperor" Fedor Emelianenko. During a stellar 12 year career, he held almost every title possible for a non-UFC fighter to hold. Consistently regarded as the greatest fighter of the PRIDE era, Emelianenko leaves a massive legacy. one no other fighter may come close to. With his impending retirement, it seems the best time to look back at The Five Most Important Fights in the Career of Fedor Emelianenko.
5. Fedor vs. Tim Sylvia
Affliction: Banned (2008)
Following the win over Hong Man Choi, many questioned Fedor's desire, fighting an unranked opponent for "entertainment purposes" the previous New Year's Eve. Despite the opportunity of a UFC contract, Fedor instead returned in a bout against highly ranked Former UFC Champion Tim Sylvia under the Affliction banner. Many saw this as his first real test since the height of his PRIDE fame, and Fedor answered the critics with a devastating performance that saw him take just 36 seconds to put away "The Mainiac". Starting off from the bell, Emelianenko secured a collar tie, delivering punishing uppercuts and dropping his opponent before finishing him via rear naked choke. The bout would be the first of his two fights for Affliction.
4. Fedor vs. Fabricio Werdum
Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum (2010)
While the previous entry might have been one of his high points, this fight was the first real low point, but an important one. Coming into this fight following the brutal demolition of Brett Rogers, Emelianenko entered as a heavy favorite. Starting strongly, Fedor caught Werdum early, dropping his opponent to the matt, before following him there looking for a finish. The next few seconds shocked MMA fans the world over, as Werdum expertly used his black belt in BJJ, catching Emelianenko in a tight armbar-triangle combination, forcing a tap after just 69 seconds. In those 69 seconds one of the greatest reigns in MMA history came to an end with a simple tap. His ten year undefeated streak ended in little over a minute.
3. Fedor vs. Mark Coleman
PRIDE Total Elimination (2004)
Coming a few fights after defeating "Big Nog" for the PRIDE Heavyweight Championship, Fedor shocked many when he entered the 2004 PRIDE HW tournament. Drawn against veteran and former PRIDE champ Mark Coleman in the opening round, Fedor and Coleman both started tentatively, with a feeling of almost mutual respect. Coleman shoots and gets the takedown, immediately searching for a rear naked choke, unsuccessfully. Following a quick stand up battle, Coleman again shoots, this time putting Emelianenko on his back, until "The Last Emperor" locks in a fight ending armbar. In little over 2 minutes, Coleman effectively passed the torch to the younger fighter.
2. Fedor vs. Cro Cop
PRIDE Final Conflict 2005
In a career defining war, both Mirko Cro Cop and Fedor Emelianenko entered MMA history for their HW title bout at PRIDE's Final Conflict 2005. Still to this day considered one of the greatest fights of all time, both fighters were viewed as equals in terms of skills. While Fedor held the edge on the ground, Cro Cop clearly held the advantage in the stand up. However, instead of looking for the takedown, Emelianenko elected to stand with the K1 star for the majority of the fight. Following 3 rounds of action and excitement, Fedor unanimously defeated his Croatian opponent to retain the title. The bout is considered one of PRIDE's finest, and is a standout point for both fighters in their respective careers.
1. Fedor vs. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
PRIDE Shockwave 2004
As far as epic bouts go, this could be considered the staple for comparisons, but remains, to me at least, the most important fight of Fedor Emelianenko's career. Despite at this stage already holding a win over "Big Nog", some still considered it a fluke, and, when both met at the finals of the PRIDE 2004 HW tournament, the match ended by "No Contest" due to an accidental head-butt. The rematch had more at stake than ever, with both PRIDE Heavyweight tournament and official title up for grabs. With both men so easily matched, a winner was hard to pick, but after three epic rounds of serious nonstop action, Emelianenko emerged the winner, crowned the true PRIDE heavyweight champion, and on that night, the best heavyweight in the world.
When Fedor does hang up the gloves for good, it will truly mark the end of an era. For 12 years he has been one of the most enigmatic, most mysterious MMA fighters who captured the hearts of fans the world over. Fedor will always be remembered as "The Last Emperor", and one of the true greats of MMA's history.