Former Pride FC heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko is largely regarded as one of the best mixed martial arts (MA) fighters of all-time due to his storied 10-year unbeaten streak that came to an end when current UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum submitted him in Strikeforce back in June 2010.
During that illustrious run, ‘The Last Emperor’ took out a who’s who of heavyweight greats like Mirko ‘Crop Cop’ Filipovic, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Andrei Arlovski, Mark Hunt, Mark Coleman, and more. The streak afforded Fedor an almost god-like aura as he effortlessly finished off each opponent after opponent.
But there was also the time when Emelianenko, repulsed by UFC president Dana White’s attitude and treatment of his M-1 Global management, marred his career and legacy by instead signing with Strikeforce and putting out mixed results at best. He beat Brett Rogers with a huge KO, but then lost to Werdum, Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva, and finally Dan Henderson before leaving to fight much lesser competition overseas for three easy wins before he retired in 2012.
Earlier this year, Emelianenko said the time was right for a return to MMA and announced his awaited comeback. Immediately the obvious hope was that he would sign with the UFC and take on the world’s best fighters once and for all, but last night it was announced that he would instead return in the main event of a Japanese New Year’s Eve show for a new promotion staged by Pride FC’s founder.
Fedor didn’t even sign with Bellator, and him signing with a fledgling promotion to fight an unknown opponent is, in truth, just about the most disappointing outcome possible, as it’s become clear ‘The Last Emperor’ isn’t all that interested in taking on the best.
And until he does, calling him the ‘greatest of all-time’ might be difficult considering that it could be argued he never fought the elite fighters in the UFC. Do you think he muddied his legacy by fighting lesser competition, or is Emelianenko still the best?