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.

Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Picks & Predictions

nullThe semifinals of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix take place on Saturday night and also a pair of intriguing side bouts.

Here are my picks for the four bouts that will be featured on tonight’s Showtime card.

Heavyweight Grand Prix Semifinals – Josh Barnett vs. Sergei Kharitonov – I think Barnett will be smart and handle Kharitonov similar to how he did Brett Rogers. Look for Barnett’s wrestling to eventually lead to a submission finish in the second or third round.

Heavyweight Grand Prix Semifinals – Antonio Silva vs. Daniel Cormier – Silva vs. Overeem would have been a bigger draw for Strikeforce, but now their champ is with the UFC. Still, Silva has shown some improving skills and I think he will be able to handle Cormier, who is still developing his skills. Cormier can wrestle, but Silva is stronger and should have better conditioning. I look for Silva to out-strike and out-grapple Cormier to earn a decision victory.

Strikeforce Middleweight Championship – Ronaldo Souza vs. Luke Rockhold – Rockhold is a nice little fighter, but Souza should have no trouble with him. The submission wizard should find a way to work his magic in this fight and force a tap. Rockhold hasn’t faced a lot of tough talent and is just proof that Strikeforce doesn’t have much of a middleweight division.

Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Bout – Muhammed Lawal vs. Roger Gracie – King Mo hasn’t fought in over a year and young Roger Gracie is off to an impressive start to his career, submitting the likes of Trevor Prangley and Kevin Randleman. Lawal is going to want to keep this fight standing, but he has a strong wrestling background that may ultimately lead to his demise. I see the better-conditioned Gracie using his skills to get the fight to the ground and choking out the former Strikeforce champ.

UFC sets Lesnar vs. Overeem for Dec. 30

nullThe UFC has been big with their announcements and another big one dropped on Tuesday.

The organization released through the L.A. Times that on Dec. 30, Alistair Overeem will make his UFC debut against none other than Brock Lesnar.

Brock Lesnar will return to the UFC octagon in a five-round main event Dec. 30 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, facing newly signed former Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem.

“Brock is a big name, a dangerous guy, and this is a dream matchup,” Overeem told The Times on Tuesday, just after signing a standard UFC fight contract in the office of Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta. “Brock’s a big guy, an exciting wrestler with his takedowns.

“I want to see this fight myself. Overall, I’m a different fighter. A striker, athletic, big. These are going to be two big trucks going at it on a collision course.”

This fight will be as anticipated as the Velasquez vs. dos Santos bout on Nov. 12, if not more, as Lesnar has the drawing power and Overeem was the last Strikeforce champion.

It is expected that this will be the main event of UFC 141 from Las Vegas and will take place on a Friday night, with New Year’s Eve being on a Saturday this year.

In terms of the fight, this should be explosive and very interesting. Overeem has the clear striking edge, but will he be able to fend off the explosive takedown attempts of Lesnar?

Either way, I don’t see this fight lasting too long.

Velasquez vs. dos Santos to headline UFC on FOX

nullThe UFC wanted a premiere fight for its FOX television premiere and that is just what it has.

Dana White announced via conference all on Friday that Cain Velasquez will defend his UFC heavyweight championship against top contender, Junior dos Santos, on Nov. 12 to headline the show.

The fight was originally scheduled to take place on Nov. 19 as the headline of UFC 139 from San Jose, but will now take place at The Pond in Anaheim.

White also indicated that this is the only fight scheduled for the 1-hour FOX premiere and if the fight ends quickly, they will air undercard bouts that took place earlier in the night.

Velasquez hasn’t fought since winning the championship from Brock Lesnar last October. He is 9-0 in his career.

Dos Santos is 13-1 and coming off a dominant win over Shane Carwin at UFC 131 in June. He has clearly established himself as being the top contender for Velasquez.

While these two may not be the highest-profile of fighters to the outside MMA fan, this is an amazing fight to get on free television.

The UFC is hoping for fireworks for this bout to really draw in a big audience and take the UFC to a new level. Hopefully this fight does just that.

The new main event for UFC 139 has yet to be announced but White indicated that it was in the works.