You can never be 100% sure in fighting games, but perhaps the greatest MMA heavyweight of all time, Fedor Emelianenko, says this weekend’s fight against Ryan Bader will be his last.He said Something similar in 2012 He polished Pedro Rizzo, but that retirement ended up being only a three-year hiatus. This time, at the age of 46, he seems to be serious.
Fedor’s gloves finally came off Saturday night at Bellator 290 in LA, marking the end of an era in MMA. Want to put things in perspective? When Tom Brady made his debut with the New England Patriots nearly 23 years ago, Fedor had already made three professional appearances, including a godlike run in Japan on the third. Young Brady said he stopped (again), lasting until the first Wednesday of February 2023, while Fedor did the same until the first Saturday (again). A quiet triumph of the “Last Emperor”.
What can you say about Fedor’s almost unassuming, especially improbable run? During that reign, he went on a 28-fight unbeaten streak, won titles in PRIDE FC and Strikeforce, and stood at 7’2. You’ve faced giants like Choi Hongman, defeated ruthless opponents like Mirko Cro Cop, and survived a slam from Kevin Randleman. , and brought out “Big Nog” Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira all the while the yakuza smoked in the shadows of the Saitama Super Arena.
One of the reasons Fedor is such a compelling figure is that he’s a throwback to a place and time we can’t fully comprehend. This prehistoric MMA fighter can study fans the same way an ichthyologist studies a gar. A year before Zuffa bought the UFC and began to change the perception of the sport, Fedor was fighting when MMA was still largely unsanctioned and taboo in the United States. He is older than the Uniform Rule. weight class.even dana go crazy White was still an aerobics instructor when Fedor was helping poor Levon Ragviraba in Rings, in the remote Tula province.
At the same time, he is this displaced relic from Dostoevsky’s novel, a cold-faced 19th-century Russian built of immortal emotional gray matter. He has always been a man of few words and has never raised his anger, as far as public records show. He’s a God-fearing man and stoic in ways that make no sense in the age of TikTok. He has such a reserve of power that his not-so-intimidating frame probably can’t budget. It’s just terribly cold.
Fedor Emelianenko, the greatest mixed martial artist the UFC has ever fought, will never show up again. His demeanor before a fight was always enough to cast a spell. He was unnervingly calm as he rolled, a huge heavyweight and another clashing fists with obvious intent to harm. seems dead. I’m telling you, that shit goes deep. For over 20 years, Fedor’s has had a cathedral hush that blends beautifully with the hysteria, pretentiousness, and firework of fight promotions. That’s why he’s one of the most beloved fighters of all time.
I still remember attending the Affliction event he headlined in 2008. He choked his 6-foot-8-inch former UFC champion Tim Sylvia to death in his 36 seconds. It was as easy as subduing a drunk outside a college bar.
Africion thought it would be a good idea for Megadeth to play occasionally to cheer up the Anaheim crowd that night, but the band had nothing to match the sheer amount of power Fedor possessed. It wasn’t. Fedor worked harder than anyone else. He had more wattage, more amplitude, more rewards. He was soft-spoken and turned the live event into a religious experience. A groan followed. Will the mighty Fedor fall?
of course not. Fedor survived countless onslaughts in Japan and knocked out Rogers in the second round. It was as close to an out-of-body experience as he had been at a live sports event. There was something cathartic about what we were witnessing. Even the pair of long-bearded Orthodox priests Fedor had traveled with from Stary Oskol were high-fiving each other as Fedor extended his undefeated streak to an impossible 28 games.
Fedor is part of MMA’s history, its mystique, and perhaps its regret. We never saw him face Randy Couture when he won the title in the mid-2020s, and Lesnar broke the UFC pay-per-view record as heavyweight champion. I also didn’t see him fight Brock Lesnar when it happened. The UFC tried to sign him, but Fedor, who is tied to his Russian-based M-1 Global, never saw eye to eye with White and his UFC brass.
Still, Fedor did something that may never be done again in MMA. He fought in times that could never be imitated. He snatched victory from the jaws of defeat as if it were a game within a game. He’s been competing for nearly a quarter of a century and hasn’t really even tried to evolve. His game plan was to fight you, knock you out, or submit, depending on the situation. When presented with fancy menus, he was always happy to order a hamburger. , was going to determine if you could take his punches.
Of course, in mixed martial arts, a man who has fought for 23 years doesn’t come out in good shape, and that mindset will eventually catch up with him. Fedor lost on the way and lost spectacularly. When he was submitted to Fabricio Werdum in San Jose, he saw people crying in the stands. I’ve run out of magic. Did Weudum trick him into that submission?Maybe, but when his reign finally ended, he knew where it ended, so the story of Fedor’s legacy picked up. rice field. He has had a decade-plus run where no one can beat him.
Then he was beaten by Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in what may have been the ugliest and most lopsided beatdown of his career. He lost one of his next to his fellow Pride legend Dan Henderson, who drank a gallon of water just to minimize the heavyweight. Then came the twilight battle with washed-up names like Jeff Monson and Rizzo, retiring, reinstatement, robbery of the decision made against him by the partisan judge against Russian Fabio Maldonado. He has been knocked out twice, and his last match was on the Paramount Network against Bader, whom he once again faced in his retirement match.
Will some in the audience watch with their fingers as Fedor trades blows with Bader? He’s 46, a little slow and a little slack. There are very few graceful exits in MMA. Frankie, as legends like Edgar and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua have seen recently, his retirement match quickly turns bleak. Both were brutally knocked out and abruptly pushed off the stage.
But when the great Russian walks one last time at the Kia Forum in Inglewood, he will carry a lot of MMA history with him. A name like Stipe Miocic would be the loudest claim.
But whoever was there, you don’t need to raise your voice when you say the name Fedor Emelianenko.