When it comes to excellence in Mixed Martial Arts, there are two names that stand head and shoulders above the rest. Those names are Fedor Emelianenko and Anderson Silva.
For years the debate has raged as to who is the Greatest Mixed Martial Artist of all time. As years go by and as men like Jon Jones and GSP pile up victories in loaded weight classes, this will be a conversation very much in flux not only now but for years to come. Right now, however, there are only two men in that conversation.
One thing to love about both athletes is their fighting style. These are two men go all out for the finish. Fedor boasts a 76.4 percent finishing rate while Anderson has a 78 percent finishing rate. Needless to say, these guys don’t usually hear the final bell.
When it comes down to who’s the greatest of all, this is simply a question of who has the better resume right now.
The main knock on Fedor from many is that he hasn’t competed in the UFC; thus he hasn’t faced the best. That is not true. “The Last Emperor” went undefeated in PRIDE, which held the very best that the heavyweight division had to offer during his time. He’s knocked off the likes of Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Ricardo Arona, Mirco “Cro Cop” Filipovic and UFC Hall of Famer Mark Coleman. Despite not ever competing in the UFC, Fedor faced 18 fighters that at some point competed in the UFC. Those fighters have a combined Octagon winning percentage of 62.5 percent.
Fedor’s legacy will forever be linked to his 32-fight, 10-year undefeated streak. In a sport where everyone loses at some point, for ten long grueling years Fedor did the opposite. He won. He fought the biggest names in heavyweight MMA and always came out on top. This streak is maybe the most unbreakable in all of MMA.
Which brings us to a man with a few streaks of his own. If there’s any knock on Anderson, it’s that he competes in the historically weak middleweight division. Again, not necessarily true. Sometimes you can just be so good that you make everyone else look inferior.
When Anderson Silva is in the Octagon, fans and opponents alike know they are about to witness something special. When that cage door closes you may be minutes or seconds from seeing something that you’ve never seen before. Whether it’s a front kick knockout, running knee to the chest, dodging punches like he’s in The Matrix or tapping someone out with merely minutes left, you’re going to see something special. To those who say that he’s done this against fighters in an inferior division, look at the fact that he’s faced 23 fighters whose UFC winning percentage comes in at 58.4 percent.
Anderson’s legacy will be his jaw-dropping stand up skills that can end a fight at any moment. Most people who have seen Muhammad Ali “fly like a butterfly” inside of the ring can point to Anderson Silva as the Muhammad Ali of MMA. Blending skill with confidence and feeding on his opponents' fear, Silva often looks as if he’s dancing circles around his opponents while battering them. When all is said and done, we will look back at Silva’s career and think not only about spectacular finishes, but also the unbeatable aura he brought to every fight.
I compared the numbers and legacies of both extensively in this article and even made a decision as to who the greatest is.
Looking at the growing popularity of the sport combined with the contributions and legacies of both men, I can only come to one conclusion about the Greatest Mixed Martial Artist of all time.
Right now there is a tie at the top of the mountain. Both Anderson Silva and Fedor Emelianenko are the greatest of all time. No one at this moment can top Fedor’s streak of ten years of dominance or Anderson’s dominance inside the Octagon.
Quite frankly, when it comes to the Greatest Ever both of these men should have their names etched in stone.