Twenty-four hours ago if you picked a Mixed Martial Arts fan out of a pack and asked them who the greatest fighter of all time was, nine times out of ten the response would be "Fedor Emelianenko".
"The Last Emperor" made a name for himself early into this millenium first dominating Japanese promotion RINGS with victories over Renato "Babalu" Sobral and Ricardo "The Brazillian Tiger" Arona.
But it wasn't until he debuted in rival Japanese promotion Pride FC that he really put his name on the map. In his four years in the now defunct organization, he picked up 14 victories over the biggest names in the industry including Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, Mark Coleman, and Heath Herring.
When Pride FC went under the Russian Heavyweight standout struggled to find compelling match-ups outside of the UFC. He picked up two victories over Matt Lindland and Hong-Man Choi before landing a big figure contract with Affliction. Affliction hosted two events in its existence both headlined by "The Last Emperor."
Emelianenko defeated former UFC Heavyweight Champions Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski. Fedor was scheduled to face another UFC stand-out Josh Barnett in Afflictions third event, however, when the large Heavyweight tested positive to anabolic steroids it signaled the end for Affliction as a Mixed Martial Arts promotion.
Following the collapse of Affliction Emelianenko was in negotiations with UFC President Dana White. However, when White wasn't willing to co-promote an event with M-1 Global this signaled the end of that deal. Instead, Emelianenko signed Strikeforce.
Fedor made his successful Strikeforce debut this past November defeating Brett "The Grim" Rogers in the second round with a right hand that shook the world and most MMA insiders and fans expected a similar fate for former UFC star Fabricio Werdum.
Fabricio Werdum had compiled an impressive 13-4-1 record with victories over Brandon Vera, Gabriel Gonzaga, and current Strikeforce Heavyweight title holder Alistair Overeem. Despite being a Brazilian jiu-jitsu ace Werdum was seen as a stepping stone for Emelianenko to capture the Strikeforce Heavyweight Championship.
I watched silently confident that "The Last Emperor" would be leaving with the head of Fabricio Werdum, especially when seconds into the bout Fedor tagged Werdum which dropped him to the mat. Emelianenko recklessly went to the mat and fell into Werdum's game plan where after a few seconds Emelianenko had submitted to an arm bar a little past the one minute mark of the first round and the MMA world stood still.
Moments later, Twitter was a frenzy with Miguel Torres and Michael Schavello expressing their shock just to name a few, even Dana White chimed in to express his happiness.
The defeat of Strikeforce's poster-boy makes a huge difference to Scott Coker's plans to take the clash of Fedor Emelianenko and Alistair Overeem to Pay-Per-View by years end. Also, the speculation into who is the world's number-one Heavyweight will be endless.
The question becomes "Where does Fedor go from here?" Despite his loss, is he still a victory away from a shot at the winner of Fabricio Werdum vs. Alistair Overeem?
Maybe that sounds like a far out idea but look at Jan Finney for instance, who gave her all against Cris "Cyborg" Santos on tonight's show. Finney held a 8-7 record and had never competed under the Strikeforce banner before, however, on her debut she had a shot at the Championship.
Or will Werdum get his wish to boycott a shot at the gold that currently resides around the waist of Alistair Overeem for a re-match with the former world's number one? Personally I don't see this going ahead, but it would be a very interesting match-up.
Only time will tell what "The Last Emperor" will do. He still has another fight on his contract with Scott Coker. If his contract expires with the company, there's a possibility he could jump ship to the UFC or hang up his gloves forever.
Regardless of what happens, Fedor Emelianenko will go down in the history books as the greatest Heavyweight of all time.
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