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In January, UFC president Dana White shocked members of the media by telling the story of how close the company once was to inking former pound-for-pound kingpin Fedor Emelianenko.
But shortly after his father passed on, Emelianenko, the darling of Japan's Pride Fighting Championships, turned down a lucrative offer from the UFC to lock horns with Brock Lesnar at Dallas Stadium.
Although pundits will always wonder, no one will ever know how "The Last Emperor" would fare against top-tier competition in the UFC like Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos.
One thing's certain, consecutive setbacks in the twilight of his career to upper-echelon foes Fabricio Werdum, Antonio Silva and Dan Henderson didn't do much to smudge Emelianenko's legacy.
Before his first legitimate loss, Emelianenko basically went unbeaten for more than nine years, going 32-1 with a no-contest.
Emelianenko's first loss came via controversial TKO due to a cut from an elbow from Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, a setback he later vindicated convincingly.
The Last Emperor finished unbeaten in 15 fights in Pride before prevailing in his first four fights outside the organization. Emelianenko then joined Strikeforce, where he went 1-3 and lost in the quarterfinals of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix.
Emelianenko never wore a UFC belt, but in his heyday, the bulk of the world's best heavyweights were fighting in Japan—he beat virtually every one of them.