Fedor Emelianenko: When He Does Retire, How Will He Be Remembered?

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Fedor Emelianenko: When He Does Retire, How Will He Be Remembered?
Tomokazu Tazawa/Getty Images
Fedor Emelianenko

Fedor Emelianenko defeated Babalu Sobral, Heath Herring, Minotauro Nogueira, Mark Coleman, Mark Hunt, Tim Sylvia, Andrei Arlovski and Brett Rogers as part of a 28-fight, unbeaten streak, lasting from April 2001 to November of 2009. It was also at this time he successfully defended the PRIDE Heavyweight Championship two times.

Lost to Fabricio Werdum, Antonio Silva and Dan Henderson during a three-fight losing-streak that lasted from June 2010 to July 2011, making it out of the 1st round just once in those three fights. 

Which is more representative of "The Last Emperor" Fedor Emelianenko?

For years, the now 35-year-old Russian was the most feared mixed martial artist on the planet, with 21 first-round wins, seven coming in the opening 90 seconds of the fight.

Then, Fedor lost in perhaps the biggest upset of 2010 when he was submitted by brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Fabricio Werdum in June of 2010. He followed that performance by getting beaten up by Antonio "Big Foot" Silva for 10 minutes before a ringside doctor stopped the fight in the opening round of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, a tournament many people believed was supposed to pit Emeliananko against then Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem in the finals.

In what was his final fight with Strikeforce, Fedor lost to Dan Henderson by TKO after Henderson survived an early onslaught from Emelianenko, reversed positions and punched away until a referee stopped the fight.

Fedor has won two fights since being released from Zuffa (the company that owns the UFC and Strikeforce) against UFC veteran Jeff Monson and Satoshi Ishii, a judo black belt from Japan. 

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Fedor's legacy has definitely taken a hit in the last 24 months or so, but will that really change how he's remembered?

No.

The last two years of Fedor Emelianenko's mixed martial arts career will not change what he accomplished during the first nine years of it. He beat four men who either were or went on to become UFC Heavyweight Champions, including both Mark Coleman and Minotauro Nogueira twice.

He put fear into the hearts of his opponents the way Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky and Tiger Woods all did in their primes. The fact that he wasn't doing what he was doing in America, surrounded by the media the way those athletes were, is the main reason he is not considered one of the all-time greats—not just at heavyweight, but the pound-for-pound best. 

If he does retire on June 21st, as he claims he will, Fedor Emelianenko will be remembered as the greatest heavyweight fighter in MMA history.

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