Let me start off by saying, I am not the biggest Fedor fan like the majority of “hardcore” MMA fans. But like the rest of the people watching Eurasia Fight Night 50, I expected this to be another easy fight for the Russian fighter. After all, he was fighting a self admitted PED user who fought his entire career at 205 until he took a short notice fight against the current UFC champ, Stipe Miocic. Fabio Maldonado was cut by the UFC after back to back losses, so when he was offered a fight against the last emperor, he took the 3 round fight.
When you talk to people about Fedor Emelianenko, they either believe he’s the greatest heavyweight of all time, or another legend fighting past his prime. In his walkout to the cage, Fedor was introduced as:
“One of the..maybe the most, the strongest athlete in MMA ever. During his 10 years Fedor Emelianenko didn’t concede any loss, he beat everybody. 3 time Pride champion, WAMMA champion”.
For those following at home, the WAMMA belts were made up in 2008 under the World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts, they fizzled out a year later. I don’t want to make this an article dedicated to bash Fedor. But I do want set the record straight on where Fedor should stand in MMA history.
The walkout continued and the commentator went on,
“A true legend, super warrior. I don’t want to say about his losses to Fabricio Werdum, to Antonio Silva, to Dan Henderson. Yes it did really happen, but before that…10 years and no losses”.
I think that is the most important part of all of this, people to this day continue to argue that Fedor is still a top 10 fighter. They just want to ignore his losses, which were all finishes. I’m not saying Fedor was not a great fighter, he was, he was possibly the best heavyweight fighter of his time. Not today.
There’s something about MMA fans, we want a constant in our sport. We try so hard to hold on to one fighter who is the greatest of all time, someone who would beat anyone from any time period. We use words like “pound for pound”, “in his prime”, “sea level..”. We try to play out these imaginary fights in our heads using these words so that the fighter we want to win, wins.
Everyone loses, we saw Fedor lose, we saw Anderson Silva lose, we saw Jose Aldo get knocked out in 13 seconds. It’s not bad to want a super hero like fighter who never loses, but that only exists on the big screen. Now let’s continue with the introductions.
“Fedor Emelianenko vs Fabio Maldonado, the return of the legend. Of course Fedor is a strong favorite in this bout. Somebody told that Fabio Maldonado is not Fedor’s level, and he shouldn’t take this fight. But I think before entering the UFC he should make fights like this”.
Another true statement. Fedor hadn’t had a legit opponent since he fought Dan Henderson in Strikeforce. When he came out of retirement his comeback fight was against Singh Jaideep, a 2-0 fighter. A lot of us thought that this fight against Fabio would be the win to put Fedor in the UFC, after rumors spread that he was very close to signing with the organization.
So the fight starts:
“Fedor takes the center of the octagon. Nice jab, oh god! Nice striking by Fedor Emelianenko, and I think it’s going to be all over…look at this! That’s Fedor’s work! What a body punch by Fedor. Oh, what a start by Fedor. That’s the Last Emperor, so heavy hands. So many knockouts by our legend…Fabio Maldonado is stunned, I don’t know what to say. I think Fabio Maldonado is still thinking of a way to survive..to get out of the octagon alive!”.
Let me translate this for you, Fedor came out with a jab and closed the distance. Fabio covered up and none of Fedor’s strikes landed clean. He did land a body shot but Fabio circled away from the cage. Fabio did not appear to be hurt at all, Fedor kept bouncing around looking to execute another flurry. But the commentator only sees what he wants to see at this point. He believes the legendary Fedor is going to put Fabio away in the first round. The fight continues:
“Oh! Oh! Look at this! What’s happening!? STOP THE FIGHT! no…Viktor Karniv did not stop the fight. Oh my gosh Fedor is on his back. He is fighting back, that could be a sensation. Fabio is on top, oh my goodness look what’s happening. I can’t believe my eyes, what is going on! Fedor is so close to another loss. But we all know Fedor’s character, Fedor is stunned…he concedes the punches…he eats these punches. What is going on?! Fedor stands up, oh my goodness”.
Translation: Fedor jumps in as he usually does for another flurry. Fabio lands a short right and then follows up with a left hook that puts Fedor down. Fedor appears to go out cold for a second or two but is woken back up with Fabio’s follow up punches. The fight would have been stopped in any other promotion but not in Russia. Let me repeat, Fabio threw two punches, connected with both and that was enough to put Fedor down. The round continues as Fedor runs away from Fabio.
“YESS! Yess! Come on! Fedor Emelianenko, good strike from the last emperor….so hard round for Fedor. Fedor is stunned! Fedor can barely move, he can hardly defend himself. What a round! Fabio is so close, several uppercuts from the Brazilian…40 seconds. You can see the crowd, everyone is standing!”
In between rounds:
“Oh my goodness look at Fedor’s face, it is nearly ruined, it’s crushed. I’m not sure he’s going to recover in this break….Fedor is ready to continue and we all hope he does not concede these punches.”
The round starts:
“Good striking from Fabio Maldonado. And after that of course I’m not sure Fedor will be signing to the UFC. Unfortunately, this fight for Fedor had to be an easy money.”
Again the commentator is saying what we’re all thinking. If Fedor couldn’t put away a bloated 205er who had a 5-6 UFC stint. What would the top heavyweights in the UFC do to Fedor today?
I know everyone wants to keep Fedor as the top heavyweight of all time, but he’s clearly not. He will always be in the conversation as a legend, representative of Russian combat sports and one of the best of his time. But in modern MMA, the skill gaps between the current champs and the champs of 1993 are vast.
The best example of this would be Royce Gracie. There is no arguing that Royce Gracie is a legend, he won the first UFC tournament. He was the smaller guy submitting heavyweights at the time. But no one ranks Royce Gracie in the top 10 best fighters of all time. So why do that with Fedor? Is it because he’s a heavyweight and his strength alone would help him defeat the smaller guys? Or is it just because he never made it to the UFC in his prime, so that question will never be answered.
The rest of the fight was a sloppy brawl with neither side doing anything significant. Fabio Maldonado just stopped fighting and Fedor was too exhausted to jump in for another flurry.
Start of round 3:
“So hard fight for Fedor Emelianenko. I don’t know what happened to Fabio he just stopped fighting. He didn’t take hard punches, I don’t know what is going on. I know he respects the legend, but this is a sport”.
End of round 3:
“The Brazilian has a very hard chin, even Fedor can’t knock him out. Fedor is exhausted and I don’t know what to say about Fabio if he is exhausted or doesn’t want to beat the legend.”
End of fight:
“This is it, the fight is all over. So what can we say about this? Are you sure that Fedor has done it? Are you sure about that? I’m not. Well…so dramatic fight. Such a dramatic bout. I don’t know what to say, we were expecting an easy victory from Fedor. We really did think it would be easy money for him, but it never happened. Fedor Emelianenko has almost lost this fight.
I don’t know why Fabio stopped fighting, maybe it wasn’t respect, maybe it was something else. But Fedor didn’t stun his opponent. He didn’t….let’s think that it was just a respect to the legend. Of course Fedor Emelianenko will get the victory. That’s for sure.
We see that Fedor is really disappointed with his performance with this bout. There is no reason for him to be proud of himself.
The only one thing I can mention I can tell about…is Fedor once again showed his character of the real warrior..of the real emperor”.
Of course Fedor went on to get the 29-28 majority decision. But the commentator summed up Fedor’s career in his closing statement. There is no reason for Fedor to be proud of his recent victories when he knows he’s only cheating himself. But, if there’s something Fedor will always be remembered for, it is his character. The aura of a killing machine who rips off the limbs of giants.