Dear Fedor: We’re done man. We’re breaking up. I think for good. And it’s not me, it’s you.
I hadn’t intended to write a breakup letter. And I know you don’t even care. I was never a die-hard fan of yours, really. Not like some folks were. And besides, you never were a fighter who seemed to care about things like fan opinion.
In a way, it was all part of your appeal. The quiet Russian, the stoic warrior, seemingly above the hype and the gossip and the chatter of those around you. Instead, you were like Caesar: You came. You saw. You conquered.
Until Werdum, a triangle choke, and the end of an era.
But in truth, the decline had set in long before then. The rot was already in the wood as your managers and business partners at M-1 leveraged your name, your reputation, and your legacy for one sneaky, shameful act after another.
There were handpicked opponents, exorbitant salary demands, and constant contract re-negotiations; At every turn, M-1 played hardball and pocketed millions while you spent your prime in limbo, facing division castoffs instead of the very best in the world like you deserved.
Don’t get me started on that whole “co-promotion” thing.
Through it all, I never gave up hope. I was frustrated, confused, and a little put out. I may not have understood why you made the career moves you did, or even fully comprehended the situation that existed behind them. I shook my head in dismay many, many times.
But I never stopped defending you as a P4P great and the world’s best heavyweight. Even as the tides of public opinion turned against you. Like that old Journey song, I never stopped believing.
But no more.
With this latest round of discussion involving a Fedor vs. Alastair Overeem fight - a fight that should have happened a year ago, if not more—I have given up hope. I’ve thrown in the towel. Either you’re a hopeless patsy and puppet of your corrupt management or you are ducking top opponents in the cloud of accusations, innuendo, and rumor.
Either way you seem to have spit in fans' faces while throwing your storied legacy away to chase a quick buck.
First, “you” (“you” being the M-1/Fedor conglomeration) claimed to only be interested in a Werdum rematch, as it was “what the fans wanted”. Once Werdum announced he would be out until 2011 with an injury, only one fight remained that made any sense: you vs. Overeem, for the Strikeforce Heavyweight World Championship.
So you sat on your hands for months. You had Vadim Finkelstein claim you still sought a Werdum rematch “pre- or post-surgery” about as ludicrous a claim I’ve ever heard. Overeem seemed down to fight you in the mean time. Scott Coker was on board. The fight was obvious and asked for. And so you waited. And waited.
Then, just a few days ago, you come out with it: Fedor wants to fight Overeem. All right! Finally! Let’s get the contracts out and - Hold on just a second. What’s this I hear about Olympic style drug testing? What are you, Floyd Mayweather Jr.?
Sure, “Ubereem” has packed on the pounds over the last few years. Your own management even went the classy route and called the Dutchman a “steroid cattle” publicly in the press a few months back. Still, we had never heard any public anxiety from you when it came to PEDs—until now.
Never mind the fact that the timing of this Overeem callout—some two months after it should have come—meant that Overseem was already committed to the K-1 World Grand Prix for the rest of 2010. Some would call that bad timing. Others would call it a fool’s errand.
But then you put the cherry on the cake, didn’t you? When rumor broke that you were coveting a Josh Barnett fight for FEG’s Dynamite 2010! New Years show in Japan, the collective jaws of MMA fans the world over pretty much hit the floor.
Josh Barnett of all people? Really? You use the steroids excuse to duck out of the Overeem fight, only to face a man who has failed no less than three drug tests. Don’t you remember what happened with Affliction? Is your memory that poor? Or is the taste of Dream’s Puji money so sweet?
If you, the casual fan, are reading this and thinking “wow, this guy sounds bitterly disappointed” then you’re pretty much right on the money. I mean c’mon Mr. Emelianenko. We always knew your management was deceitful, greedy, and delusional, but it’s never been this blatantly obvious before.
Not facing Overeem for the belt- the best non-Werdum fight outside the UFC- is an embarrassment. Not facing him to take a quick payday against an irrelevant Josh Barnett is a disgrace. And I’d be lying if I put it any other ay.
So I’m done, Fedor. Done defending you, done giving you the benefit of the doubt, done buying your excuses and your spin and your B.S. I know you don’t care what anyone thinks. From your home and simple life in Stary Oskol, you let Vadim and crew run your career and pimp your legacy while you provide for you and yours. After all, securing a future for your family is what you were always after, and you have certainly accomplished that. Good on you.
That tragedy here is that after all you’ve done, the unprecedented trail you’ve blazed in this sport, you’re seemingly content to take a pay cheque and let Dana White, Brock Lesnar, and the legion of haters mar the final chapter of your career with a big, ugly footnote.
The saddest thing is they’re right. They’re absolutely right.
By Elton Hobson