When Mark Hunt was defeated via first round submission on Dec. 31, 2006 at PRIDE Shockwave 2006 event it was yet another feather in the cap of PRIDE Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko.
At that point in Fedor’s career, he was on top of the world. He was widely considered the best pound-for-pound MMA fighter in the world and it was not debatable.
Since PRIDE Shockwave 2006, Fedor has been the subject of negative rumors, has been knocked down the pound-for-pound list by most media outlets and fans, and has endured harsh criticism along the way.
Matt Lindland was Fedor’s next opponent on April 17, 2007.
He defeated Lindland via first round submission due to an arm bar. Lindland is one of the best MMA fighters in the world, however, he typically fights around 185 pounds.
Around this time the UFC purchased the PRIDE organization and Fedor and his management would attempt to sign a contract with the UFC.
Throughout the negotiations, the rumors began to fly that Fedor and his management were making outrageous demands.
These included large sums of money, putting fighters from Fedor’s Red Devil Sport Club on the same fight cards, having the ability to pick and choose opponents, and permitting him to compete in Sambo competitions in his native Russia.
The UFC was never able to come to a compromise so Fedor signed a contract with Monte Cox and M-1 Global.
Dec. 31, 2007 would mark the date of his next fight, which would come under the M-1 Global banner.
He would take on and defeat a mediocre fighter named Hong-Man Choi via first round submission due to an arm bar to run his MMA record to 28–1–1, with one no contest.
Flash forward to the current date, May 7. The Choi fight is only the second fight Fedor has had in the last 17 months.
A combination of the time lapse, the quality of his last two opponents, and the rumors regarding his contract demands have led many media outlets and fans to take shots at Fedor, criticize his decision making, and to downgrade his status amongst the great MMA fighters.
Enter Tim Sylvia.
Fedor’s upcoming fight against the former UFC Heavyweight Champion on July 19 could turn out to be another milestone in his long and storied career.
A victory over Sylvia would force the media and fans to appreciate his greatness once and for all.
Sylvia is no slouch.
He is an elite heavyweight striker who holds a 24–4 career MMA record. He is still widely considered to be a top 10 MMA heavyweight fighter. He has beaten some great MMA fighters in his career including Ricco Rodriguez, Andrei Arlovski, Ben Rothwell, and Brandon Vera.
The Sylvia fight will give Fedor a chance to silence his critics, and it will be a chance at redemption.
He will be out to prove why he’s still the best pound-for-pound MMA fighter in the world, possibly the best of all-time.
Mark your calendar and let the countdown begin for this epic heavyweight battle.