Michael Jordan. Babe Ruth. Wayne Gretzky. Pele. Walter Payton. Muhammad Ali.
All names synonymous with their respective sports. All names that are associated with being the greatest of all time.
However, when it comes to MMA, there's a great debate as to who is the greatest.
Some say it's the UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva, reigning pound-for-pound king and owner of the longest undefeated streak in UFC history.
Others say it's Fedor Emelianenko. Fedor went on an unprecedented 10-year winning streak and dominated Pride when Pride housed some of the greatest names in MMA history, including Silva.
But who is the greatest of all?
Since we can't have both of these guys throw down in the middle of the Octagon, I'll comprehensively break down each fighters' resume and end the discussion once and for all of who is the greatest ever.
The numbers just don't lie. In looking at the two head-to-head on a stat sheet, it's easy to see why both men have been dominant inside the Ring and Octagon. But whose numbers actually look better?
One of the more surprising numbers that jumps out is that if fought at a catch weight, The Spider would have a height and reach advantage over The Last Emperor.
|Fedor Emelianenko||Anderson Silva|
|Sig strikes per min||3.15||3.18|
When debating the G.O.A.T. argument, the biggest argument against both men is that they have faced largely inferior talent throughout their careers. But who's faced more "Cans" and who was better in those fights?
First of all, we have to understand what a "Can" is. My criteria of a can is either a guy with a bad MMA record, who hasn't beaten anyone notable or who has never made it to any big MMA promotion.
Anderson Silva's Cans
|Name||MMA record||Result against Silva||Notes|
|Raimundo Pinheiro||N/A||Silva wins by submission in 2 minutes|
|Jose Barreto||N/A||Silva wins by TKO in 1 minute|
|Claudionor Fontinelle||N/A||Silva wins by TKO in 5 minutes|
|Israel Albuquerque||N/A||Silva wins by Submission in 6 minutes|
|Alexander Otsuka||6-13||Silva wins by UD||Pro Wrestler|
|Daiju Takase||10-13||Takase wins by Submission in 8 minutes||0-3 UFC record|
|Waldir Dos Anjos||NA||Silva wins by TKO corner stoppage|
|Curtis Stout||11-12||Silva wins by KO||0-2 UFC record|
Fedor Emelianenko's Cans
|Name||MMA record||Result against Fedor||Notes|
|Martin Lazarov||N/A||Fedor wins by submission in 2 minutes|
|Levon Lagvilava||N/A||Fedor wins by Submission in 7 minutes|
|Hiroya Takada||N/A||Fedor wins by KO in 12 seconds|
|Mihail Apostolov||N/A||Fedor wins by submission in 1 minute|
|Ryushi Yanagisawa||24-25||Fedor wins by UD|
|Lee Hasdell||13-16||Fedor wins by Submission in 4 minutes||Kickboxer with 44-16 record|
|Yuju Nagata||0-2||Fedor wins by TKO in 1 minute||Pro Wrestler|
|Zulukinho||8-8||Fedor wins by submission in 26 seconds|
|Hong Man Choi||2-3||Fedor wins by submission in 2 minutes|
|Satoshi Ishii||4-2||Fedor wins by KO in 2 minutes|
By my count, Anderson Silva has eight fights and is 7-1 against Cans, while Fedor is a perfect 10-0 against inferior competition. Very little argument can be made about who the better Can Crusher is.
Advantage: Fedor Emelianenko
When judging a fighter it's good to know not only how they lost but when they lost. Muhammad Ali is widely considered the greatest boxer of all time. However, to end his career, he went 1-3 in his last four fights. Does this diminish his greatness, or does it just show that he was past his prime?
Michael Jordan played for a Washington Wizards team that didn't make the playoffs while he started every game for them. Does that diminish his status as G.O.A.T.?
Of course not.
The fact of the matter is that the MMA community and the sports community in general are to quick to jump to conclusions. Once you lose, you suck. Once you do win a few, you deserve a title shot.
Looking at both men's careers right now, let's take a look at who they lost to.
Anderson Silva's Losses
Daiju Takase: 10-13-2, (0-3)UFC, (5-4 )PRIDE
Yushin Okami: 26-7(10-4 UFC), (2-0) PRIDE, Current No. 7 Middleweight
Ryo Chonan: 20-13(1-3)UFC, (4-4) PRIDE
Luiz Azeredo: 15-10 (2-3) PRIDE
Combined: 71-43, 64-percent winning percentage (14-11), 56 percent UFC, (13-11), 54.1 percent PRIDE
Fedor Emelianenko's losses
Dan Henderson: 29-8(6-2)UFC (13-5) PRIDE, No. 2 Light Heavyweight by both Sherdog and Bleacher Report
Antonio Bigfoot Silva: 16-4(0-1) UFC, No. 10 Heavyweight in Bleacher Report, No. 9 in Sherdog
Fabricio Werdum: 16-5(4-2) UFC (4-2) PRIDE, No. 4 Heavyweight in both Bleacher Report and Sherdog
Tsuyoshi Kohsaka: 21-15 (3-3) UFC,(1-2) PRIDE
Combined: 82-32, 71.9-perecent winning percentage (13-8), 61.9 percent UFC (18-9), 67 percent PRIDE
Looking at this list, it's very easy to see who's had losses against better competition. It isn't close.
Advantage: Fedor Emelianenko
When all is said and done, the main question everyone will ask is who beat the better competition. Let's start out by looking at Anderson's quality victories.
Hayato Sakurai: (36-12-2) Overall, (0-1) UFC, (8-3) PRIDE
Before being defeated by Silva in Anderson's eighth oro MMA match, Sakurai was undefeated at 18-0-2.
At the time, Sakurai would've been considered a top pound-for-pound guy and maybe even unbeatable talent. The Japanese phenom would go on to defeat Shinya Aoki twice and also defeated UFC competitors Mac Danzig and Jens Pulver.
Jeremy Horn: (89-21-5) Overall, (6-7) UFC, (2-0) PRIDE.
Before being caught in the Spider's web, Jeremy Horn had already fought in 87 career fights and had 70 victories. Some notable names on Horn's victim list include Chael Sonnen, Chuck Liddell, Gilbert Yvel and Shinya Aoki.
Dan Henderson: (29-8) Overall, (6-2) UFC, (13-5) PRIDE
Dan Henderson is simply one of the greatest fighters of all time. Taking on all comers and always entertaining, Old Ugly, as Dana White calls him, was at the top of his game while facing The Spider.
Reigning PRIDE Champion at both Middleweight and Welterweight, Hendo was a force in the MMA world. Silva quickly dispatched him in the second round, becoming the true Middleweight Champ.
Rich Franklin: (29-6-1) Overall, (13-5) UFC
Ace was simply one of the best at the time Silva took him down. At the time of facing Silva, Ace was 22-1 and a dominant UFC Champion after winning his first six UFC matches. Some notable fighters on his hit list are Wanderlei Silva, Chuck Liddell, and Ken Shamrock.
Chris Leben: (22-8) Overall, (12-7) UFC
People forget just how good Chris Leben was. Sporting a 15-1 record at the time and running off six straight UFC victories, Leben was chosen to welcome The Spider to the UFC. It was then that Leben suffered a 49-second destruction, and the legend of Anderson Silva as we know him was born.
Forrest Griffin: (18-7) Overall, (9-5) UFC
Forrest Griffin was at the height of his popularity in the UFC and had just lost his UFC Light Heavyweight Championship when he faced Silva.
At 16-5 before facing Silva and winning three of his last four fights, Griffin was a top-five Light Heavyweight at the time he faced the Middleweight King. Notable wins on his resume include Tito Ortiz, Rich Franklin, Rampage Jackson and Shogun Rua.
Vitor Belfort: (21-9) Overall, (10-5) UFC, (5-3) PRIDE
Known as The Phenom and currently the No. 3 Middleweight in the UFC according to some, Vitor Belfort was supposed to have the stand-up to defeat Silva. However, he became yet another victim. Vitor's list of victims include Gilbert Yvel, Randy Couture and Rich Franklin.
Overall in terms of relevant competition, Silva has defeated 23 fighters with UFC experience. Their combined UFC record is 121-86, which equates to a 58.4-percent UFC winning percentage.
He's also defeated eight fighters who have competed in PRIDE. Their combined record is 40-24, which is a 58.4 winning percentage.
As with Silva, when you look at Fedor and his legacy, you'll have to take a look at who he's beaten. Is he just a glorified can crusher, or has he beaten some top guys too? Let's take a look.
Ricardo Arona: (14-5) Overall (8-4) PRIDE
If you haven't had a chance to see Ricardo Arona fight, open a tab and YouTube him. He holds victories over Dan Henderson, Wanderlei Silva, Alistair Overeem, and Jeremy Horn. Fedor was the first to defeat Arona.
Renato Sobral: (37-9) Overall (6-4) UFC
The Former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion has beaten the likes of both Chael Sonnen and Shogun Rua.
Semmy Schilt: (26-14-1) Overall record (1-1) UFC, (4-3) Pride
Many would argue that Semmy Schilt is perhaps the greatest stand-up fighter of all time. Sporting a 39-6 Kickboxing record and sporting wins against the best they have to offer would absolutely warrant that.
However, he was placed on Fedor's victim list in a 2002 Pride match that saw The Last Emperor take down the Kickboxing King.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: 33-7 Overall. (4-3) UFC, (17-3) in PRIDE
Holding a record of 19-1-1, Big Nog was considered by many the top heavyweight in the world. With a guard that could beat the best, Nog rolled through the likes of Dan Henderson, Semmy Schilt, Mark Coleman and Jeremy Horn.
Then, in what may have been the biggest Nos. 1 vs. 2 Heavyweight match in MMA, Fedor faced Nogueira with the PRIDE Heavyweight Championship on the line. In the first of three epic matches, the No. 2 Heavyweight of his time went 0-2 with one no-contest against Fedor.
Mark Coleman: (16-10) Overall (7-6) UFC (8-5) PRIDE
Mark Coleman is a man with many accomplishments. A UFC Hall of Famer, two-time UFC tournament winner and the very first UFC Heavyweight Champion, Coleman was a force. At 13-5 before facing Fedor, Coleman defeated top Heavyweight Igor Vovchanchyn, Dan Severn, and Don Frye.
Mark Hunt: (8-7) Overall, (3-1) UFC, (5-3) PRIDE
Who would've thought that this name would have been here a couple of years ago? Hunt is currently riding a three-fight UFC win streak, and Bleacher Report has him as the No. 8 Heavyweight in the world. At 30-13 in his kickboxing career, the heavy-hitting Samoan was 5-2 before getting defeated by Fedor, with wins against Mirco Cro Cop and Wanderlei Silva.
Tim Sylvia: (31-7) Overall, (9-4) UFC
Sylvia is a two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion. He is also tied with Randy Couture for most successful UFC Heavyweight Championship defenses. Sylvia has beaten current UFC vets in Ben Rothwell and Brandon Vera, as well as Andrei Arlovski and Paul Buentello.
Even Dana White, who'd been notorious for bashing Fedor, was quoted after the fight with Sylvia as saying, "It does (change my opinion). Tim Sylvia was a real opponent."
Kevin Randleman: (17-16) Overall, (4-3) UFC, (4-7) PRIDE
Don't let the record fool you. Randleman was one of the top Heavyweights of the class when he fought Fedor. Fresh off of a KO of Mirco Cro Cop, "The Monster" was 15-7 and held victories over Renato Sobral and Pedro Rizzo. A former UFC Heavyweight Champion, Randleman at the time was considered top-10 in heavyweights.
Mirco Filipovic: (27-10) Overall, (4-6) UFC, (18-3-2) PRIDE
Of all the dangerous Heavyweights, Cro Cop was the most feared stand-up heavyweight in the world. Left leg hospital, right leg cemetery rang true since 10 of his 20 KOs came via kicks. Cro Cop was on a seven-fight winning streak that claimed Mark Coleman, Kevin Randleman, Josh Barnett and even Fedor's brother Alexander.
In the 2005 Fight of the Year, Cro Cop and Fedor went the distance in what was an instant classic. Fedor got rocked and stumbled, only to catch himself and bring the fight right back to Cro Cop. Definitely a fight worth YouTubing.
So how did all of Fedor's opponents fare in the UFC and PRIDE?
Combined Fedor faced 18 opponents who have fought in the UFC. Their combined UFC record is 82-49, which is a 62.5-percent record in the Octagon.
In the ring under PRIDE rules, Fedor has faced 14 fighters with a combined PRIDE record of 99-44, good for a 69.2 winning percentage.
After looking at the numbers and competition that each man has faced, it's clear who the greatest of all time is.
In a sport where absolutely anything can happen and being undefeated is all but impossible, one man has constantly faced and beaten top competition and stood atop the ladder for a very long time.
This wasn't easy. Anderson Silva is still going strong, winning fight after fight and setting a new UFC record with each victory.
Fedor Emelianenko went on a 10-year tear, beating everyone in his path and taking down the best that the heavyweight division had to offer.
So with that being said, the greatest MMA fighter of all time at this moment is...
The Last Emperor is the greatest MMA fighter of all time.
The men he's beaten hold a better UFC winning percentage: 62.5 percent vs. Silva's 58.4 percent.
Then men who've beaten him hold a better UFC winning percentage: 61.9 percent vs. Silva's 56 percent.
Then on top of everything else, 10 years of supremacy will always stand. Three consecutive losses against three top-10 fighters while out of your prime is nothing to be down about. After all, Ali did go 1-3 down the stretch, and we still call him the greatest.
Maybe one day when the resumes are done and side by side, we'll be able to say the same about Fedor.
Feel free to debate in the comments!