After watching Heavyweight Kingpin Fedor Emelianenko (31-1) send a 6'5", 280-pound Brett Rogers (10-1) crumbling to the canvas, I thought about who else in the division would provide a tough fight for the Russian Machine.
It appears that Fabricio Werdum (13-4), after edging out a close decision against Antonio Silva, is next in line to fight the WAMMA heavyweight champion, but I highly doubt that Werdum is going to dethrone Emelianenko.
Sure, he has a ADCC-certified ground game and a decent chin, but he is no Nogueira. I am not implying that Fedor would be disinterested in fighting Werdum; after all, he did submit Fedor's little brother Aleksander with an arm triangle years ago in Europe. A wise Werdum would not want to fight a pissed-off polar bear, or a vengeful Fedor, inside a cage.
So if not Werdum, then who else?
Considering how Josh Barnett (24-5) ruined his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to fight Fedor, it seems that only three heavyweights remain to pose an interesting challenge for the Last Emperor.
First is Alistair Overeem (31-11), who is the current Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion and a potential K1 Grand-Prix Winner. The second biggest threat is Brock Lesnar (4-1), who is the current UFC Heavyweight Champion. Lastly, I present to you Cain Velasquez (7-0), who is fresh off a dominant beatdown of Ben Rothwell (30-6).
If the rising light-heavyweight talent for this year is Gegard Mousasi, the heavyweight to watch is the Demolition Man, another 6'5", 250-pound beast equipped with excellent striking and a surprisingly solid wrestling base.
Why do I think Overeem is the biggest threat to Fedor? Fans generally agree that a skilled stand-up fighter with good take-down defense is Fedor's kryptonite.
Fedor admitted himself that his fight against Mirko "Crocop" Filipovic was his toughest yet; Fedor left that fight bruised and battered, looking much worse than he did after the Rogers fight.
Anderson Silva, who could move up to heavyweight if he wanted to, does have great striking finesse. The problem is that Fedor would toss him around. However, I predict that Fedor would have a much more difficult time taking Overeem to the ground.
I don't have to say much about Overeem's stand-up skills. Go to Youtube and look up some of his recent K1 fights. He is like a combination of a prime Crocop and Peter Aerts, who are two fighters with very different physiques and styles.
Crocop was short, stocky and explosive; Aerts was lanky and precise. Overeem is all that and more. Rogers made the fatal mistake of keeping his hands low against an unorthodox striker like Fedor, but Overeem is not going to let the Russian hit him on his chin that easily.
The second biggest threat to Fedor is Lesnar, a NCAA Wrestling Champion and a physical specimen in his own right. People might be puzzled at why I ranked Lesnar under Overeem, and for me the biggest reason is Lesnar's lack of experience.
Overeem has had over 40 fights. Lesnar has had five fights; experience matters in fights, a lot . While Lesnar did prove that his stand up is not horrible , it still sucks compared to Overeem's striking.
Lesnar's strength of course lies in the wrasslin' department. Although I highly doubt that Lesnar can easily control Fedor on the ground like he did with Frank Mir, Lesnar on top of Fedor raining down elbows and hammer-fists is still a very scary thought. Add in the fact that Fedor's skin is made of tissue paper; it is possible that we will see a lot of red stuff if this match comes to fruition.
If Lesnar continues to work diligently on his submission defense, I predict that a Fedor-Lesnar fight will be much more competitive than others think.
It was tough for me to put Cain Velasquez behind Lesnar, for I think very highly of him. He is young, smart, ferocious and relentless. Compared to the other two, he happens to be undefeated, although I must admit that he has not faced the stiffest competition yet.
If Overeem and Lesnar each represent the extremes of MMA fundamentals (Overeem as the best striker, Lesnar as the best wrestler) Velasquez sits comfortably in the middle. Training at ATT will only make him a better well-rounded fighter, and Velasquez is improving at a scary rate.
You might laugh at me for this, but I think Velasquez has enough potential to become the heavyweight Georges St. Pierre. (GASP!) The world will see if Velasquez is the real deal or not when he faces heavyweight legend Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (32-5).
I just hope Shane Carwin doesn't read this. Judging from his Twitter account, Carwin loves surfing the web. Or Todd Duffee. Or Frank Mir. You know what, I think I am at a very good point to end this article. Peace Out.
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