Ranking Fedor Emelianenko among the MMA greats

nullLast week, “The Last Emporer” Fedor Emelianenko decided to call it a career following his first round KO win over Pedro Rizzo at a M-1 Global event.

It wasn’t the way many envisioned Fedor stepping away from MMA.

For a man that went undefeated for a 10-year span, Fedor should have been someone that ended his career in a blaze of glory.

Instead, he ended his career on a three-fight win streak over fighters that had passed their prime long before he did.

The lasting images of Fedor seem to be a tapout to Fabricio Werdum, a bloody face at the hands of Antonio Silva, and face-down body thanks to a big hand from Dan Henderson.

There is no shame in Fedor’s losses, as time makes cowards of us all, but we all hoped for greater things from Fedor. Perhaps greater than he could really achieve.

Fedor is following in the footsteps of many MMA legends before him.

There was a time that Tito Ortiz seemed unbeatable in the UFC. Now, he is not even top 10 in the light heavyweight division.

Chuck Liddell was untouchable when he finally won the UFC title, but he soon developed a glass jaw and simply couldn’t beat anyone.

Matt Hughes is still referenced as the greatest welterweight champion in UFC history, but he has not been a title contender for five years.

All of these men should have no shame. Nobody can sustain a level of performance that they achieved for very long.

Even today, the likes of Jon Jones and Anderson Silva appear to be flawless. But, there will be a day when they too must accept the fate of time.

Looking back, it is hard to imagine anyone will have the kind of run Fedor did during the first 10 years of the new millennium. He won 28 fights in that time without a single loss and fought the majority of the top fighters in the heavyweight division at that time. He also did so as an undersized heavyweight.

Anderson Silva has been unbeaten since 2006 and has done so very impressively, but in today’s age of MMA, with fighters evolving so quickly, you have to imagine someone will have his number sooner rather than later.

The same can be said for Jon Jones. A better, younger, and stronger Jon Jones is being built right now in gyms around the world.

Fedor did what few have. He managed to stay ahead of the game for 10 years. It is a feat that may never be repeated. For that reason, it is fair to call him the greatest heavyweight in MMA history and maybe even the greatest fighter in all of MMA history.

UFC 147 Results & Recap: Franklin Decisions Silva Again

nullThe sequel looked a lot like the original, only a little bit longer.

Rich Franklin once again defeated Wanderlei Silva by decision in another exciting fight to headline UFC 147 in Brazil on Saturday, but this fight went five rounds instead of three.

Each fighter had their moment in the contest, with Silva nearly finishing Franklin to end the second round following a flurry, but “Ace” survived and went on to dictate the rest of the fight with his crisp, technical striking.

The win was impressive for the former middleweight champion, as he took this bout on short notice and fought in Silva’s raucous home country.

Now, the question is, what is next for both men?

Franklin is still one of the best, but he isn’t quite enough any more to challenge for a title. Silva is clearly far from what he was in the PRIDE days, but still entertaining. He has become somewhat of a gate keeper in the middleweight division.

In the co-main event of Saturday’s card, Fabricio Werdum improved to 2-0 in his return to the octagon, as he ran through Mike Russow.

Werdum continued to show his improved striking, as he quickly overwhelmed the inexperienced Russow with an array of strikes. Once Werdum rocked Russow, he quickly finished up on the ground and earned the TKO stoppage midway through the first.

Werdum is making a strong case to be considered a top 5 UFC heavyweight with his two impressive showings since coming back to the UFC. Perhaps a battle with the likes of Frank Mir could be next in the cards.

For complete results from UFC 147, check out the jump

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UFC 147 Main Event: Worst Ever?

nullIf you weren’t paying attention, you may not realize that UFC 147 is taking place this Saturday.

Part of the reason you may not realize this is because the UFC isn’t really going overboard trying to promote it.

The injury bug played a role in this card as the original main event was set to be Vitor Belfort vs. Wanderlei Silva. The event is taking place in Brazil and these two coached the inaugural season of “The Ultimate Fighter Brazil.”

While that fight lacks star power in the U.S., it was still a major fight in Brazil and had some meaning as Belfort was working his way back to a title shot.

However, Belfort broke his hand, and now the main event is Rich Franklin vs. Wanderlei Silva 2, a rematch of their UFC 99 main event back in June of 2009.

While the fight itself could be very entertaining, it could be one of the worst main events in UFC history in regards to what the fight actually means.

Neither fighter is anywhere near a title shot and both are on the tail end of their careers. Their UFC 99 main event was somewhat of a stretch as it was, and it has even less meaning now.

Again, I want to state that when I say “worst main event” I am not referring to the actual entertainment value of the fight. To me, main events should be left for title fights or elite top contender matchups. This main event at UFC 147 is neither.

Sure, there have been some shaky main events before like Chris Leben vs. Mark Munoz or Yushin Okami vs. Nate Marquardt, but those took place in events that aired on live television. This is actually a PPV that costs $45 to watch ($55 if you want HD).

You could even compare it to the likes of UFC 119, which had Frank Mir vs. Mirko Cro Cop as the main event, but Frank Mir was much closer to a title fight then than Franklin or Silva are now.

Really the closest fight by comparison is the main event at UFC 115 when Franklin faced Chuck Liddell. But, even that featured Liddell in a “retirement fight” that garnered some extra interest.

Hopefully the fight is explosive and gives people a reason to watch that pay their money. But, given the talented roster the UFC has these days, these types of main events should be closer and closer to extinction.

Strikeforce, Zuffa done with Fedor Emelianenko

nullFedor Emelianenko may not be ready to retire, but Zuffa thinks he probably should.

While the company didn’t specifically say that, it was made pretty clear that they have no more interest in Fedor when they decided they will not pursue a new contract with him.

According to MMAFighting.com, Dana White made his feelings about Fedor pretty clear.

Fedor Emelianenko will be cut from the promotion following his loss to Dan Henderson at last Saturday’s Strikeforce/M-1 Fedor vs. Henderson event.

UFC president Dana White — a co-owner of Strikeforce parent company Zuffa LLC — confirmed the news following the UFC 133 press conference on Thursday.

“He’s being cut, yeah,” White told the media. “Why? Do you think we should keep him?”

“You guys thought he was the pound-for-pound best in the world, but I thought he was overrated for years.”

After being unbeaten for 10 years, Fedor has now lost three straight, all by stoppage.

While he still seems competitive, it is clear the mystique behind “The Last Emperor,” has clearly dissolved. His drawing power is not what it was, and Zuffa is no longer interested.

You can’t blame Zuffa from a business stand point, as dealing with Fedor’s extra management of M-1 Global was hard enough when he was on top of the MMA world, it could be even more ridiculous now that he doesn’t have the same credibility.

Fedor Emelianenko: The Fall of the Last Emperor

nullWith every great moment in sports history, there is typically one that is just as sad a little further down the road.

No matter how invincible we think people like Anderson Silva or Georges St. Pierre are, time will make a coward of them all.

Such is the case with Fedor Emelianenko.

From 2000-2010 Fedor was considered a god in MMA. He went 10 years without losing a fight. It seemed impossible, but he kept finding ways to win. Through PRIDE to Affliction to Strikeforce, he kept finding himself on top.

But, as time moved on, fighters kept improving, while Fedor has hit a standstill with his evolving in the sport.

Now, a loser of three straight after being stopped by Fabricio Werdum, Antonio Silva, and now Dan Henderson, “The Last Emperor” looks like someone that has been dethroned.

Is Fedor still a top-level fighter? Yes.

He is still someone that can compete with the best.

But, he is far from the legend that he created over the last 10 years.

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Strikeforce releases Alistair Overeem

nullThe interesting career of Alistair Overeem has taken another turn.

On Friday night, MMAFighting.com reported that the Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion was released from his contract by the promotion.

The organization has released its heavyweight champion, MMA Fighting confirmed with multiple sources close to the fighter, including his trainer Martijn de Jong. HDNet first reported the news on its Inside MMA program Friday night.

Overeem had one fight left on his current contract. He was not immediately available for comment. When contacted by MMA Fighting, Strikeforce officials would not confirm or deny Overeem’s departure from the organization.

The news comes on the heels of the announcement that Overeem was removed from the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix last week after he told Zuffa he wouldn’t be ready to fight Antonio Silva in the semi-finals on Sept. 10 due to scheduling and multiple injuries.

You can look at this one of two ways: 1. Zuffa wants nothing to do with Overeem or 2. Zuffa wants to sign Overeem into the UFC.

Hopefully option two is the case because he is too talented a striker to not be prominent in American MMA.

Top 10 Heavyweight Rankings

nullThe rankings list has made its way back to the heavyweight division.

There have been a few shake ups in this group as of late, mainly near the top. Still, the division has remained pretty solid as we work toward the big meeting of Velasquez vs. dos Sanots.

1. Cain Velasquez (9-0): Velasquez will return in November to take on Junior dos Santos. It will be a tough test for the UFC champ, as he has not fought in nearly a year and is coming off a major surgery.

2. Junior dos Santos (13-1): dos Santos tore through Shane Carwin in an impressive victory that solidified his spot as the top contender to the UFC crown. Junior has proven he can out-strike a striker and stuff a takedown, but will he be able to handle the explosiveness and speed of Velasquez?

3. Brock Lesnar (5-2): Lesnar may not return anytime soon, but I still think he deserves a high ranking as he was able to beat some of the best on this list before getting injured. Lesnar is going to need to show he can handle getting hit when he returns if he hopes to contend for the title ever again.

4. Alistair Overeem (35-11): Overeem was able to beat Werdum without too much difficulty but wasn’t impressive in his own right. Now, some debate with Zuffa has gotten him taken off the rest of the Strikeforce Grand Prix and leaves his MMA future in question. Hopefully Overeem will return and maybe someday step inside the octagon.

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Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum recap and analysis

nullI didn’t buy the idea that Fabricio Werdum was as good as his win over Fedor Emelianenko made people think he was.

That showed on Saturday when he lost a decision to Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion, Alistair Overeem, in the first round of the Heavyweight Grand Prix (Photo courtesy of Tracy Lee at Yahoo! Sports)

While Overeem wasn’t that impressive either, I never enjoy watching a guy flop to his back and beg his opponent to come to the ground.

This is MMA, not a grappling tournament. If you can’t get your opponent to the ground, then you better find a way to beat him on your feet.

Do you ever think you would see Cain Velasquez begging his opponent to do anything? I don’t. It is pretty clear that Werdum doesn’t have a ton of confidence in his striking, and to truly be considered one of the best in the heavyweight division, he needs to be more well-rounded and be willing to exchange.

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Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum Picks & Predictions

nullStrikeforce puts on one of its biggest events in the history of the promotion when the second half of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix takes place from the American Airlines Arena on Saturday night at 10 p.m. ET.

Here are my picks for the four bouts that will be on the main card.

Heavyweight Grand Prix – Alistair Overeem (34-11) vs. Fabricio Werdum (14-4-1) – Overeem doesn’t have a match in this weight class in Strikeforce in my opinion. He has really beefed up and continues to have the same striking ability he has always had. Only a true wrestler has the skill set to take him out, and Werdum isn’t a wrestler. I look for Overeem to pick apart Werdum and earn a second round TKO.

Heavyweight Grand Prix – Josh Barnett (29-5) vs. Brett Rogers (11-2) – Barnett is the better fighter but Rogers does have knockout ability with one punch. Look for Barnett to play it safe early on and survive the storm from Rogers before scoring some takedowns and eventually choking out his opponent in the second round.

Lightweight Bout – K.J. Noons (10-3) vs. Jorge Masvidal (21-6) – Masvidal is tough but he hasn’t quite slugged it out with the talent that Noons has in recent years. If this is going to be a slugfest, I look for Noons to come out on top. Strikeforce would like to get Noons and Gilbert Melendez in a fight together, and I think an impressive second round KO for Noons will do just that.

Heavyweight Bout – Daniel Cormier (7-0) vs. Jeff Monson (42-11) – Cormier has had a nice little start to his MMA career, but Jeff Monson is a smart fighter that will find a way to get Cormier to the ground. Once it hits the mat, Monson will dominate the fight and eventually score a submission in the first five minutes of action.

Strikeforce Weigh-In Results

nullStrikeforce held its weigh ins for Saturday’s card and everyone hit their weight, including the fourth competitors that will be battling in the Heavyweight Grand Prix.

In the main event, Strikeforce heavyweight champion, Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum both came in on point. Overeem weighed in at 256 pounds while Werdum tipped the scales at 246 pounds.

In the other Grand Prix contest, Josh Barnett weighed in at 256 pounds for his Grand Prix showdown with Brett Rogers, who weighed in at 258 pounds.

Both contests will air live on Showtime at 10 p.m. ET on Saturday night.

For full weigh-in results, check out the jump.

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