"The Invincible Fedor Emelianenko" Exposed In Strikeforce Debut

Darren WongSenior Analyst INovember 8, 2009

NEW YORK - JANUARY 20:  Heavyweight mixed martial arts champion Fedor 'The Last Emperor' Emelianenko of Russia attends the 'Day of Reckoning' press conference at Trump Tower January 20, 2009 in New York City.  (Photo by Joe Corrigan/Getty Images)
Joe Corrigan/Getty Images

In the buildup to his Strikeforce debut, Fedor was being pitched as the greatest fighter in Mixed Martial Arts history. He was supposed to be an invincible machine, and a man with no weaknesses. According to one commercial, he was supposed to be "technically the perfect fighter."

After five minutes in the cage with Brett Rogers, bloodied and bruised, Fedor, the fighter, looked far from invincible.

For seven minutes, Brett Rogers stood in the cage with Fedor Emelianenko, and gave as good as he got. He landed a big jab to damage Fedor's nose, and later landed some damaging strikes on the ground, but it wasn't enough.

In the end, Fedor would get the win with a big right-hand bomb, decisively beating Rogers to the punch. Despite the finish, the knockout alone doesn't capture the essence of the fight as a whole.

Apparently Fedor isn't invincible after all. For those of us who have been following Fedor's career for some time, this result shouldn't come as any surprise. Fedor has been hit before, and even rocked occasionally.

On the other hand, those people who were introduced to Fedor for the first time today may be a bit confused.

The problem is that the people promoting Fedor have been billing him as some unstoppable juggernaut, while the truth is much more interesting.

This fight with Brett Rogers exposed the truth about Fedor Emelianenko.

The truth is this: Fedor is not the perfect fighter. He's not the strongest, he's not the best technical striker, and he's not the best wrestler.

However, this fight with Rogers also showed why people think Fedor has been so successful.

Fedor has technical flaws, but he also has a lot of unusual gifts.

Fedor's technical boxing skills are actually relatively weak. Against Arlovski, we saw that Fedor can be out-boxed. Yet against most fighters, Fedor's boxing is good enough.

Fedor usually gets hit a few times, but he's always been able to recover. That's a testament to his chin, and also his incredible mental strength. He can be battered, but he's never been mentally beaten.

Furthermore, while Fedor does get hit, his own wild and winging punches also tend to be very hard, and accurate. He hits people, and when he does, he hurts them.

In terms of size and wrestling skills, Fedor is lacking there as well. He had some serious troubles dealing with Rogers's size and strength.

Again though, Fedor found away to overcome the obstacles in this fight, winning for the 31st time in his career. I just hope that next time, Strikeforce doesn't promote Fedor like he's some superhuman cyborg.

He's not.

Fedor has big physical gifts.  His biggest are his quickness, balance, and punching power. Nevertheless, Fedor doesn't win because of those physical gifts alone. He wins because he may be the most mentally tough fighter in mixed martial arts.

He doesn't panic or stray from the gameplan, and he's always searching for a way to win. He also transitions his different attacks as well or better than all of the other dominant champions like BJ Penn and Georges St. Pierre.

That mental strength is a huge asset. BJJ blackbelts have walked into MMA fights and looked absolutely lost and confused once they've stepped into the cage. Fedor never looks lost for more than an instant.

The real Fedor, the one with flaws and weaknesses, but an incredible mental strength, is far more compelling than the invincible Fedor that Strikeforce was trying to market.

In exposing the invincible Fedor as a phony, the real Fedor Emelianenko was finally revealed to the masses.

This version of Fedor is a fighter that I can cheer for.