I'm not going to waste time telling the story of Fedor Emilianenko. I won't delve into his history, his legacy, or what he is to the sport of MMA. Quite frankly, there is too much to go over. If you don't know who he is you can go to Youtube or Google him.
I am here to discuss this past Saturday evening, where he faced "Bigfoot" Silva.
This is not an in depth breakdown or analysis of the fight, but rather a former fighters' defense of the "Baddest Man on the Planet". Fedor's loss this past Saturday has brought out a surprising amount of naysayers. People that were formerly staunch supporters of "the Last Emperor" are now trumpeting his downfall, and how the game has passed him by. He lost his edge. Too many years fighting cans. His heart isn't in it anymore.
It's fucking insulting.
It's easy to sit on a couch and cheer a favorite fighter who wins consistently. It's even easier, apparently, to turn on that same fighter when they don't perform up to your demands and expectations. ("What are you talking about, Bull? I've been watching since UFC 1; I know what I'm talking about.")
To which I reply:
Shut the Fuck Up.
The fact of the matter is that MMA has changed. Weight classes were implemented to help legitimize the sport, but believe me, size matters. Just because you weigh in at 155, 170, 205 pounds does not mean that you step into the ring/ cage at those same numbers. (Witness last weeks' scrap between Forrest Griffin and Rich Franklin. I only bring this up because many people/ fans are unfamiliar with weight cutting.)
But the heavy weight class in MMA is still a bit of an enigma. While in other weight classes you might have a disparity of ten pounds or so, in the HW division you can have a difference of up to 80 pounds (that's an Olsen twin, or Lindsay Lohan.) This in turn led to what we witnessed the other night.
Let's just put it out there: Fedor looked like a child fighting his father. The difference in size (6 inches in height, 60 pounds in weight, and 8 inches in reach) were fully evident. With that being said, Fedor won the first round against Silva, who looked cautious at best (and afraid at the worst). Fedor took a few shots, but walked through them with his typical emotionless expression.
The second round was different.
Silva, who perfectly timed Fedor's overhand right, secured a double leg and brought the fight to the mat. Most people are now stating that Fedor was dominated. This is where I disagree. Did he lose the round? Sure. Did he get beat up? Absolutely. But dominated? No. Think about it:
A Gracie trained, BJJ black belt, with 60 pounds of weight and a significantly dominant position still couldn't submit Fedor. Silva landed a number of clean shots from full mount, and when you are dealing with a guy that size, even glancing blows can knock you out. But Fedor not only deflected most of the shots, not only escaped from the submission attempts, but actually managed to throw a sub of his own.
Fedor won the first; Silva won the second, and at the end of the round, he was completely and utterly gassed.
But a third round was not meant to be.
At the end of the second round, the ring physician issued a stoppage due to the damage done to Fedor's right eye. While I desperately wanted to see the fight to it's conclusion, this was a good call, as I feel that Fedor's orbital was broken near his nose and it would have been dangerous for him to continue when his eye was swollen shut. Once notified of the news, Silva seemed equal parts excited for the win, and not having to face the legend in the third round.
The in ring post fight interview is what broke my heart, though. Fedor, through his translator, alluded to retirement. His face was typically stoic, yet his posture spoke the disappointment in himself, while the crowd voiced it's disapproval in the background.
The man who went undefeated for ten years has now lost 2 in a row. But I just don't feel like he should hang them up yet.
In his loss against Fabricio Werdum, he made a mistake (after dominating the fight) and got caught. On Saturday he didn't tap, and he wasn't knocked out. The doctor stopped it; not Fedor. This is not the end; it's an opportunity to reinvent himself. Let's look at the stats:
-Fedor is 5'11 inches tall. That is short for a middle weight, much less a heavy weight.
-He has a 74 inch reach, and yet still managed to knock out or submit goliaths Brett Rogers, Andre Arvlovski, and Tim Sylvia.
-He has a considerable midsection. He weighs in at 230 pounds. With a proper diet, he could make 205, easily. Cutting weight? Maybe even 185.
While Strikeforce announcer Gus Johnson referenced that it might be too late in the game for Fedor to drop weight classes, I disagree. At only 34 years old, he has at least 4 years of fight left in him.
In closing, Fedor has absolutely nothing to prove to anyone, anywhere. But retirement?
Please, Fedor; Say it isn't so.