On Saturday February 12th, Fedor Emilianenko will take to the Strikeforce cage for what will be his 36th professional fight. “The Last Emperor” will make the solitary walk from the dressing room to the cage, with more consequences on the line than usual. In his last fight,we saw Fedor’s first “official” loss, tapping out in 69 seconds due to an exceptional triangle/armbar combination. Coming in to the fight as the heavy favourite, no one expected the loss.
When Fedor squared off against multi-time BJJ world Champion Fabricio Werdum back in June, everyone expected Fedor to decisevily defeat “Vai Cavalo”. However, a small mistake by the usually composed Russian gave us what was surely one of the biggest upsets in MMA history.
When Fedor takes that long walk on February 12th, he has, for the first time in years, something to prove. Not since his 2003 bout with Antonio Rodrigo Noguiera has Fedor had to prove anything. His record since is all the proof needed. Following the upset against Werdum, people are now starting to doubt The Last Emperor. As well as this, Emilianenko is now 34 years old, and for a Heavyweight, age is mor important.
If the unthinkable was to happen, and Big Foot was to hand Fedor his 2nd real loss (third if we include what should have been a no contest in 2000) it would be hard to argue that Emilianenko was still a top ten pound for pound fighter. Despite ten years of total dominance in the Heavyweight division, a few losses could quickly see him fall from many pound for pound lists. Losing to Silva would simply back up the argument that he hasn’t fought top opponents since his PRIDE days.
On the other hand, if Fedor does what he is capable of, and puts in his usual performance, I see no way whatsoever that Silva can beat him. Despite that shock loss, Fedor is still a top 5 Heavyweight, and with a record of 32 -2(1), easily still one of the best in the world.
While coming off a loss like that would motivate some fighters, Fedor isn’t “that guy”. He won’t show up angry, vengeful or even with a point to prove. Emilianenko is known for his religion, as well as his calm demeanour. Fedor will show up like always, with that almost bored look on his face, like he isn’t even there. Fedor has never and most likely will never bear any ill feeling towards any opponent.
With a loss for Fedor, we may finally see him make a drop to Light Heavyweight. One of the few fighters not to cut, or even increase his natural weight, the seemingly chubby Russian has always been a small Heavyweight, usually coming in between 220-230 pounds. If Fedor was to drop down, he would finally find himself facing people with his own size and reach. While at 34, it would be difficult to see him make a long run at the belt, a title shot is not out of reach, given his stature.
So should Fedor win or lose next Saturday, his legacy won’t be questioned. His fight tonight will prove two things: that Fedor can or can’t hang with the top Heavyweights today, and that his last loss was a fluke.
Image Source: Showtime sports