It was the best of times in MMA, it was the worst of times in MMA.
What MMA fan wasn't holding their breath these past days wanting Fedor Emelianenko to join the UFC, the premier MMA organization? Thoughts were dancing in the heads of many fight fans as they dreamed of matching up Fedor with UFC stars such as Randy Couture or Brock Lesnar...or even the new breed such as Shane Carwin.
The possibilities seemed so rich. Fedor still in his prime against the best collection of heavyweights in any organization—what could be better?
And yet...it all fell through as Fedor signed with a much smaller organization called Strikeforce.
While Strikeforce is still growing and building their promotion, they hardly have the talent that the UFC holds. Brett Rogers is not exactly comparable to Frank Mir or even Cain Velasquez yet.
Why would Fedor go there? Why would he not want to engage with the best in the world in an organization that strictly enforces drug testing? Fedor dominated many fighters in Japan and PRIDE, but that was in an environment where anything goes and no testing of performance enhancing drugs was in place.
Sure, he crushed former UFC stars Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski...but what about his chance to put aside all questions once and for all about his career and his competition? These were the questions many were left asking as the ink dried on Fedor's deal to go to the land of lesser fighters.
There were claims from Fedor and his team of seemingly important ideas such as "co-promotion," but no explanation really satisfies a fan's appetite when such a great opportunity was presented. Fedor was backing away from truly testing himself in the UFC.
Indeed...it was the worst of times as this news sank in.
And yet...it was also the best of times as well.
On Saturday night in front of a Philadelphia crowd absolutely buzzing, Anderson Silva put himself to another great test in moving up a weight class to fight a former Light Heavyweight Champion in Forrest Griffin.
Silva has often talked (as many fighters claim) to "want to fight the best." However, as fans can attest....Silva means what he says. Silva clearly relished his chance to fight Forrest and you could almost sense his enjoyment as he painted another masterpiece.
The sport is called Mixed Martial Arts and certainly, Silva paints the most violent and entertaining masterpieces, as evidenced by his absolute destruction of Griffin.
Almost every time he has fought in the UFC, Silva has made his opponent his canvas for truly showing the exquisite art he is capable of as a fighter.
This was not the case in his last two fights as one ended with a freak injury and the other showed an opponent who repeatedly just fell to the ground. In Forrest Griffin, Silva again had a worthy opponent and a fighter who would not cower in fear.
Silva's ballet of brutality ended Griffin's night in the first round, but I felt he could have even ended things earlier had he wanted. MMA fans were treated to a fresh reminder of what a true champion does.
So, while Fedor hides himself and his legacy in a world of lesser competition, Silva is asking for and stepping up to new challenges and proving himself as the unquestionable best fighter on the planet.
There is a latin phrase that goes like this, "Si vis pacem, para bellum," and it means "if you wish for peace, prepare for war." This holds true in the great court of public opinion of fighter's legacies and careers.
Certainly, Fedor's fans will blow the trumpet loudly of his past glories and there is some sweet music to be heard. However, the fact that he competed in such an unsanctioned and untested environment makes that trumpet sound somewhat out of tune.
While no one can prove he was on any type of drug or enhancer, one must only look to the latest baseball headline to see what happens when there is no governing bodies and sanctioning. The question becomes, "who wasn't on something?".
Fedor is to be congratulated for destroying the former UFC fighters in the now defunct Affliction, for that was in a testable environment, but in the minds of many, his past accomplishments must be taken with a grain of salt.
However, when the opportunity arose to be paid handsomely and enter the Octagon against the best Heavyweights in this era, Fedor choose to back down.
If he thinks his legacy is firmly cemented, I would humbly suggest he consider Anderson Silva. Silva doesn't live off past glory. Silva doesn't back down from the best challenges.
Silva willfully enters the Octagon to face the absolute best fighters he can....even if that means moving up a weight class and fighting a former champion of that weight class.
If Silva wants "peace" around his legacy as the best fighter ever, he is doing it by preparing himself for the wars. Fedor seems content to think his legacy is set and there is no further war for him to engage in.
Sadly, he is mistaken.
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