Perhaps I was blinded by the mystic. Perhaps, I was nothing more than an unwittingly imbiber of the tainted Kool-Aid that was being shared by MMA fans throughout the world. Or, maybe, just maybe we were right all along and Fedor Emelianenko was really an all-time great. Any way you look at it, the name “Fedor” was as polarizing as it was mystical. There is an unmistakable reverence that is whispered under the breath whenever it is spoken. Even Emelianenko’s detractors openly pine for him to be featured prominently in the mythical match-ups that play in their mind.
This is why the thought of Emelianenko’s face being tenderized by Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva’s Buick-sized fists will forever be etched into my memory banks. Never before had the man the world knows as “Fedor” been so decidedly beaten. To say that he was beaten to a bloody pulp would do no justice to the images of blood and contusions that painted a grotesque picture on the Stary Oskol native’s face.
Silva’s gargantuan fists did more than knock Emelianenko out of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix tournament; it in effect put an end to the career of a legendary fighter. But while some may cry foul at the adulation bestowed upon Emelianenko due to defeats in his last two fights, the fact of the matter is that a loss by submission to Fabricio Werdum and a TKO loss to Antonio Silva are nothing to scoff at. Yet, for a fighter who carries a mystic like Emelianenko fans, even the most knowledgeable ones, demand an air of invincibility. When this perception is shattered in a very mortal way, the doubters will pour from the woodwork.
But, make no mistake about it Fedor Emelianenko is to be considered one of the greatest fighters in the history of MMA. Despite not satisfying the wishes of many and mixing it up against the giants in the UFC, Emelianenko’s overall body of work should be enough to enshrine him into whatever mythical hall of fame your mind conjures up. Emelianenko career is as full of storied conquests as any transcendent fighter ever had and should he make good on his inclination to step away from the sport forever his legacy has forever been cast in stone.
It’s always tough to see the greats of athletic competition fade into the sunset, but solace is found when you look back at the accomplishments of the quiet Russian. After all, isn’t that the greatest accomplishment of all: leaving behind a legacy?