MMA Analysis: Don't Sleep on Fedor Emelianenko

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MMA Fans are an interesting breed.  The line between “Up and Comer” or “Emerging Star” to “Overrated” and “Exposed” is usually one bad performance.  More recently however the line between “Best Ever” and “Legend” to “Done” and “Washed up” is two fights.  If MMA fans taught history class, we’d all be wandering around thinking the earth was flat.

Fedor Emelianenko has been revered by many, and respected by most.  A fighter who epitomizes what it means to be a sportsman, has never stepped out of line, never embarrassed himself with the media or did anything silly to draw attention to himself, and yet, there is a large cross-section of fans who would rather believe he is overrated than cheer what he has done and continues to do for the sport of MMA.

Recently Chael Sonnen went on record as saying Fedor’s record is actually “3-2” and Dan Henderson will “beat him fairly handedly.”  You expect some fans to be dimwitted and say things that don’t make sense, but you’d like to think better of the fighters.  Chael, first off, actually, engaging children when they are acting out seeking attention isn’t good.  All the baby books say that.  As do the how to train your new puppy books.  So we will move on.

There are different classes of fans as it pertains to Fedor.  Some feel he can do no wrong and is a God among men.  They feel he’s infallible and any commentary on him that isn’t glowing and full of joy is blasphemy and intolerable.  Then, we have the polar opposite, the people who feel he was never worth a darn, built his name in Japan with “fake fights” and got exposed when he finally took some real fights stateside.  Somewhere in the middle is the truth, and regardless of where you stand, he’s done more than enough to warrant all of our respect.

This is a man who defeated Cro Cop, Big Nog (twice), Herring, Schilt, and Mark Coleman (twice) all when these guys were in their primes.  He beat former UFC champions Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski back to back, both by knockout combined in about four minutes.  He went nine plus years without a loss and even now, with his “slump” he’s a robust 31-3.  Fedor could walk to the cage on water and some people would complain about the ripples.  Let’s fast forward to his recent troubles in the cage.

Go back and watch the Fabricio Werdum fight.  Fedor clipped and dropped Werdum with the first flurry of punches he threw.  His mistake was immediately going in for the kill and jumping into one of the best and most aggressive heavyweight guards in the sport.  He fought off an armbar and in doing so, sunk his head directly into a triangle.  It was super tight and Fedor tapped.  It was a very solid submission win for Werdum and a mistake by Fedor.   It didn’t signal the end of Fedor’s era or prove he was on his way out.  He knocked Werdum down, followed into his guard, and got submitted.

In his last fight, he was controlled and beaten by Antonio Silva. The first round was very competitive and action packed.  People tend to think of that fight as totally one-sided, but the first was very back and forth and fun.  In the second round, Fedor threw a right hand and Silva ducked under and executed a perfect takedown.  Fedor was controlled from that point and took a ton of punishment.  He was outweighed that night in the cage by some fifty plus pounds, as announcer Mauro Ranallo was quoted as saying Silva was 285 the night of the fight.  That weight difference coupled with Silva’s excellent top game made is very difficult for Fedor to get off his back and the fight was stopped between rounds, as the doctor determined Fedor’s swollen eye was impairing his vision.   It was a fair stoppage and a brilliant win for Antonio Silva.  A despondent Fedor indicated he might retire after the fight, but reconsidered.

Now Fedor is a few days away from fighting Dan Henderson in a mega main event on Showtime.  There is a majority out there that thinks Dan Henderson will win this fight and Fedor will be forced into retirement.  That may come to pass.  Dan Henderson is a tremendous fighter with a granite right hand.  He is however a couple fights removed from being completely manhandled on the ground by a 185 pound Jake Shields.  Is that not a cause for concern for Henderson fans?  It would be for me.

Whoever loses this fight will still be among the best in the world, but if it is Fedor, three consecutive losses is cause for him to consider retirement.  Personally, I am a fan of both fighters, but I think Fedor will hurt Dan Henderson both standing and on the ground and will submit him in the second round.

However, whichever way the fight goes, and whoever wins, fans should remember what both men have meant to the sport.  People should respect the pedigree of both fighters and thank them for what they have meant to the growth of the sport and for how they have conducted themselves like champions.

On Saturday night in Chicago, either Dan Henderson or Fedor Emelianenko will lose.  Both however will leave Chicago winners.

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