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.

MMA News and Notes – Henderson vs. Guida set, Diaz skips media event

nullLost in the announcement of Lesnar vs. Overeem on Tuesday were some other big news in the world of MMA, mostly concerning the UFC.

- In another big fight announcement, MMAFighting.com is reporting that top lightweight contenders, Ben Henderson and Clay Guida will collide on the UFC on FOX undercard. Henderson is coming off his dominant win over Jim Miller at UFC on Versus 5 while Guida defeated Anthony Pettis at the Ultimate Fighter Finale. The winner of this bout could find themselves in top contender status for the lightweight title. It should be a good grappling match, but I see Henderson favored based on styles.

- MMAFighting.com also reported that Matt Hughes has accepted a fight with Josh Koscheck for UFC 135. Koscheck will replace Hughes’ original opponent, Diego Sanchez. Sanchez had to pull out of the fight with a broken hand.

- You can’t a teach a dog new tricks apparently. Despite Dana White insisting that Nick Diaz would conform to the various media requests that are expected of a top contender for his UFC 137 title bout with Georges St. Pierre, apparently the Strikeforce welterweight champion skipped a press conference on Tuesday in Toronto to promote the event. The UFC had to explination for his absence according to the Winnipeg Free Press, but another scheduled press conference is to take place today in Las Vegas. Will Diaz be there? Will he be punished for his absence?

- Fedor Emelianenko will return to action on Nov. 12 when he takes on Jeff Monson for a M-1 event in Russia according to MMAMania.com. Fedor has lost his last three bouts and will face Monson, who is coming off a loss to Daniel Cormier on the undercard of Strikeforce: Overeem vs. Werdum. Stylistically, this is a good matchup for Fedor, but will do nothing to get him back into the American spotlight.

- Another announcement that took place on Tuesday is that the UFC is heading back to Japan in 2012. Sherdog.com reports that Feb. 26, 2012 is the set date for the organization to make its return to Japan, which is nearly 14 years since the UFC first stepped foot in Japan. Expect to see many of the countries top starts on that card.

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 Recap: Henderson hands Fedor another loss

nullAnother big Strikeforce event is in the books and the storied career of Fedor Emelianenko continues to have a somber ending.

“The Last Emperor” suffered a first round TKO loss to Dan Henderson in a heavyweight clash that saw Emelianenko basically taking on a light heavyweight.

The action was fast and furious in the bout, with Fedor coming out swinging early. After surviving a few big punches early, Henderson answered with some of his own and then controlled most of the round in the clinch.

The end came after Fedor landed a big uppercut that sent Henderson to the ground. As Fedor looked for the finish, Henderson managed to reverse the position and land a big right during a scramble that put Fedor down. A few punches later, referee Herb Dean stopped the fight just 4:12 into the contest.

Fedor has now lost three straight fights, all by stoppage. His future is in doubt while Henderson is on a nice roll and just secured one of the biggest wins in his legendary career.

In the co-main event, Miesha Tate pulled off a surprising arm triangle submission on submission specialist Marloes Coenen to win the Strikeforce Women’s Welterweight Championship.

The fight was close from the start, with Tate surviving a second round that saw Coenen on her back for nearly the full five minutes. Still, in the fourth round Tate managed to score a takedown and catch Coenen off guard with a quick transition to an arm triangle that force the champion to tap at 3:03.

For full main card results from Saturday’s fights, check out the jump.

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Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson Picks & Predictions

nullStrikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson takes place Saturday night and here are my picks for each of the five main card bouts.

Heavyweight Bout – Fedor Emelianenko (31-3-1) vs. Dan Henderson (27-8) – This is a tough fight to call, but I like Fedor to bounce back and get over his losing streak. I think his size will be too much for Henderson, as he has similar wrestling skills but improved submissions. Both pack a good punch, but Fedor looks like he is in good shape for this fight and will be able to push a faster pace. Give me Fedor to win in the third by submission.

Women’s Welterweight Championship – Marloes Coenen (19-4) vs. Miesha Tate (11-2) – I like Coenen to win this fight by submission in the later rounds. I don’t expect either to land a big strike and expect the fight to be primarily on the ground. There, I look for Coenen to neutralize Tate’s wrestling ability before finding a way to sneak in a submission.

Middleweight Bout – Robbie Lawler (19-7-1) vs. Tim Kennedy (13-3) – Lawler has a pretty obvious weakness against ground fighters, so I think Kennedy should win this one with some ease. Lawler will swing big early, but that will open him up to a takedown, and eventually a submission. I will take Kennedy in the second by choke.

Welterweight Bout – Paul Daley (27-10-2) vs. Tyron Woodley (7-0) – Like Lawler, Daley is somewhat one dimensional, which should allow Woodley to get the win. This will be a big test for Woodley, but I like him to win by TKO with ground and pound as Daley will struggle to hit his big punch.

Welterweight Bout – Scott Smith (17-7-1) vs. Tarec Saffiedine (10-2) – Smith is a dangerous striker and an exciting fighter, but he lacks the all-around skills to compete at the highest level. I look for Saffiedine to control the fight on the ground and get a decision win over Smith.

Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson Weigh-In Results

nullThe weigh-ins for Saturday’s Strikeforce card took place on Friday night and all main card fighters were cleared to compete.

In the main event, both Fedor Emelianenko (223 lbs.) and Dan Henderson (207) came in rather light for a heavyweight contest but Henderson has never fought above light heavyweight and Fedor is working his way down to that weight class.

This fight is being billed as one of the biggest in Strikeforce history, as it pits two PRIDE legends against one another. It should be an explosive matchup.

In the co-main event, Marloes Coenen defends her Women’s Welterweight Championship against Miesha Tate. Both combatants weighed in at 135 pounds, the exact mark they needed for the contest.

Coenen and Tate are both strong on the ground with Coenen being superior in jiu-jitsu while Tate is a wrestling-based fighter.

For all of the weigh-in results, courtesy of Sherdog.com, check out the jump.

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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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Top 10 Heavyweight Rankings

nullWe have worked our way back around to the heavyweights in the rankings list.

The division has been pretty quiet for the last two months, but June will provide some big shakeups with UFC 131 and the second half of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix.

So, without further ado, here is the list.

1. Cain Velasquez (9-0): The UFC Heavyweight Champion continues to await his next opponent while recovering from shoulder surgery. Newly married, Velasquez will find out whether Junior dos Santos or Shane Carwin is next at UFC 131.

2. Junior dos Santos (12-1): Junior appears to be the top contender in the UFC heavyweight division, but he has to prove it next weekend against Shane Carwin. Originally set to face Brock Lesnar, dos Santos will now face one of the toughest strikers in the division in Carwin. The fight should be explosive and end with a brutal KO.

3. Shane Carwin (12-1): Carwin had hit a bit of a funk after having back surgery following his loss to Lesnar last summer, but now he finds himself with a little bit of luck. With Lesnar injured, Carwin now immediately jumps into the title picture with a win over dos Santos at UFC 131.

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What you might have missed: MMA news from the weekend

nullLost in the shadows of Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley Saturday night was a pretty eventful weekend in the MMA community.

Here are a few things I think you should know about:

-Saturday night, Bellator 40 took place and rising MMA star, Ben Askren, remained undefeated with a unanimous decision win over Nick Thompson in the main event. The two-time NCAA champion continued to show dominant wrestling form against Thompson, who was helpless against Askren’s takedown ability. Askren changed levels, worked in some striking, and had the cardio to dominate for 15 minutes. Askren is now 8-0 and, if he continues to develop his striking, he can be a real force in the national picture. In other bouts, Jay Hieron picked up a decision win over Brent Weedman to advance to the finals of the Bellator Welterweight Tournament, where he will face unbeaten Rick Hawn. In the Bellator Lightweight Tournament, Michael Chandler won a decision over Lloyd Woodard to advance to the tournament final against Patricky Freire.

-On Friday night, MFC 29 took place on HDNet and UFC veterans Marcus Davis, Hermes Franca, and Pete Spratt each picked up wins. Davis won a split decision over Curtis Demarce in his first fight after being cut by the UFC. Franca knocked out Robert Washington just 26 seconds into the second round, giving him two straight wins. Spratt pulled off an armbar submission in the second round of his fight against Demi Deeds. The win ended a two-fight losing streak for Spratt.

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