Fedor fights. Fedor retires. Did anybody care?
It has barely been 6 months since the one-time greatest fighter on the planet Fedor Emelienenko, defeated Judo Olympic gold-medalist Satoshi Ishii by knockout. Before that merely a month had passed since he had also beaten journeyman Jeff Monson by decision. Yesterday, an overwhelmed Pedro Rizzo was added to the list of victims after a KO loss in the opening minutes of the first round. A third win in the spanse of 7 months is certainly impressive for most fighters, Fedor included, however a lack of enthusiasm seemed accompany this victory as in most of Emelienenko’s current bouts. Certainly the conflicting reports of his possible retirement were a factor. Also, Fedor’s seeming obliviousness that fans that would like to see him fight big fights in the UFC were another. Perhaps the Mixed Martial Arts community was aware that Fedor could potentially walk away without ever having set foot inside the Octagon? According to several published reports, that’s exactly what he did. He walked away.
Fedor Emelienaneko was considered the first amongst elite fighters we were privileged to see in Mixed Martial Arts. Sure, there were superstars like Royce Gracie, Frank Shamrock, or Kazushi Sakaruba, but Fedor was the first to truly embody a Tyson-esque dominance in the ultra-competitive landscape of the Martial Arts. An unbeaten streak that lasted just short of 10 years is virtually unheard of in modern MMA, yet Fedor was able to accomplish it without a significant amount of adversity within the ring. Although never officially fighting under the UFC banner, he did manage to defeat 3 former champions from the organization, including 3 PRIDE victories over future UFC champion Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira.
After dropping 3 straight bouts beginning with a surprise submission from Fabricio Werdum, the hopes of seeing the ‘Last Emperor’ in the Ultimate Fighting Championship began to wane. Back-and-forth wrangling between M1 (Fedor’s management company) and the UFC has been the subject of many press releases and highly charged public statements, with neither side taking the blame for the lack of Emelienenko within the Octagon. Although the bickering has been monumental, we have seen Zuffa and Dana White pull together deals from much less, a fact that the fans have been banking on for years. White has been known to publicly trash many fighters only to later offer up a lucrative contract within the company. Fedor has always been elusive, but the UFC has for the most part attempted to procure the services of the best fighters, Emelienenko especially would have been no exception.
Alas, it seems that we may have seen the last of Fedor. There may never be another opportunity to create the fantasy fights that fans wanted to see, there may never be a way to see how he might have stacked up to the top 10 fighters in the world. Searching any reputable news sources will produce multiple articles on Fedor’s retirement, thus it is all but certain that the greatest Heavyweight fighter in MMA history has left the building. Considering Fedor’s faith and religion, he’s possibly stubborn enough to not ever look back at the sport. He’s already stated that he is proud of what he has achieved and he feels like it’s his time to step away and be with family. No money will be enough to convince him otherwise. Were it anybody but Fedor I would not be convinced, but clearly he has never been motivated by the financial aspect, if that were the case we would have seen him in the UFC long ago. It’s possible we’re heading into the future without one of the greatest fighters ever, and we’re all going to have to come to grips with it.
Congratulations to the ‘Last Emperor’. We may not have gotten all the answers we wanted from a fan perspective, but you always put 100% into every bout. Considering how fast the martial arts is evolving way may never see another streak similar to the one you put on for the better part of a decade. Do Mixed Martial Arts fans care about Fedor’s retirement? The truth is that most of us were expecting a miraculous deal and partnership with the UFC, no matter how it seemed in the press. We expected to see Fedor in top form against the best fighters out there, win or lose. We expected that all of this before a potential retirement, and a lot of fan reaction was tepid after realizing none of this would happen. Given that, anybody who is a real Mixed Martial Arts fan can look back at a career that could possibly never be repeated and give the man credit for accomplishing what no one else has. Setting aside what we all wanted to happen, this is what did happen and we must credit Fedor for being at the top of the heap for so many years.
He may not have done exactly what we wanted, but he did what no one else has been able to.
Congrats again and happy retirement.