So the time has come, one of MMA’s historic legacies is over. Fedor Emilianenko, known as ‘The Last Emperor’, has dropped three fights in a row and is unequivocally not the best pound for pound fighter in the world anymore.
Dana White, the UFC President would argue that Fedor was never the best, as he is always putting down Fedor’s opponents from the PRIDE days and in Strikefarce, as he called it at the time.
Hey look, Dana has always hyped his guys, Anderson Silva or Georges St Pierre, and they are good choices. But to put down Fedor’s legacy is wrong, and Dana is holding a little bit of a grudge.
Let’s not be revisionist, the UFC juggernaut is what it is today mainly because of Dana, but there was a day when PRIDE, not the UFC was the biggest MMA company in the world and had the best fighters. And it was since those times that Fedor reigned supreme.
There can be no better example of this than when the UFC poster boy Chuck Lidell went to PRIDE, oh and he got creamed by the way. But the true showing of PRIDE’s muscle at the time was when all the prefight videos referred to him as ‘Chack’. It was definitely a moment PRIDE’s kharma paid for later, but they owned Chack and the UFC at that point.
Age, perhaps fighting in a cage and three very tough opponents have caused 3 losses in a row for PRIDE’s golden boy, but they can’t undo what Fedor accomplished in his career.
His battles with Antonio Noguiera and Crocop in PRIDE were epic. White would be wrong to argue that either guy was exposed in the UFC. Both were in their primes when they were in PRIDE, and the fights with Fedor are the best fights in the history of MMA to that point. Nothing Brock Lesnar or with all due respect, Cain Velasquez have done is even remotely close so please.
Even Fedor’s fights against Hong Man Choi, Zulu and Semmy Schilt deserve awe and respect. Fedor fought men twice his size basically, more than once, and the matches are a testament to what MMA is – it is a contest of skill. Fedor while he was in his prime was clinical, defeating his equals and answering challenges like a Hong Man with stone cold gusto.
In his last 3 fights, Fedor ran into a high skill guy who is bigger (Werdum), a massive guy (Silva) and a guy just as gritty as he is (Hendo). And clearly he has lost some of the speed and precision that made him the most dangerous man on the planet for the better part of the last decade.
But it is time to acknowledge that this man reset the bar for excellence in MMA and that there is little doubt at all that for years, he was the absolute best there was.