There are few fighters as polarizing as Fedor Emelianenko.
As such, it's always difficult to get a balanced view of the man.
Depending on who you talk to, Fedor Emelianenko is either the greatest heavyweight fighter of all time or incredibly overrated.
When I say that Fedor is the greatest heavyweight of all time, the evidence isn't necessarily in his skills or abilities.
He's certainly skilled, well rounded and perhaps the most mentally tough fighter in the short history of the sport, but that was never the measure of greatness.
Fedor is the greatest not because of skills and attributes, but because of his record of achievements: No heavyweight fighter has accomplished as much as Fedor has over the 10 years or so of modern MMA history.
Nobody's resume compares.
So when people come up to me and say things like "Prime Velasquez would have beaten prime Fedor," my response is always the same: Velasquez hasn't achieved what Fedor has.
Greatness is a measure of what you've done, not some fanboy style coulda, wouda, shoulda in his prime, as long as he's motivated BS.
When I say that Fedor is overrated, you've got to keep in mind that being overrated is always relative to the popular opinion of the man.
Fedor never thought of himself as invincible. He was about as humble of a champion as you could imagine, yet he gained a rabid fan following who would be quick to jump on anybody who mentioned attributed Fedor with anything less than godlike status.
These fans have fetishized and romanticized Fedor and his era to the point where they speak of the modern era as some sort of depleted and watered down version.
MMA today will never be as good for them as it was five or six years ago.
When compared to that opinion, Fedor is completely overrated.
On the other hand, there is a reactionary group who seem to hate Fedor for something that was never his fault: his fans.
Fedor's most rabid fans are some of the worst fans on the internet.
You can't have a rational argument with them, because everything always degenerates to "Fedor would armbar him in less than a minute."
But that's not Fedor's fault.
The bottom line is that as much as you may disagree with Fedor's most feverish supporters, the only real thing you can be mad at Fedor for is his refusal to sign with the UFC, and even that was a business decision and not some show of cowardice, as his detractors would try to frame it.
As a writer, I always find myself criticizing Fedor in light of popular opinions about him.
As a fan, I always find myself defending Fedor when he comes up in casual conversation.
Recently, I feel that even people in the media are giving Fedor way too much credit by saying that his loss was a result of his own physical decline, as if prime Fedor would never have lost to an Antonio Silva.
I completely disagree.
If Mark Hunt the one-dimensional kickboxer was able to threaten Fedor with a submission back in 2006, I see no reason why a 280 pound BJJ black belt like Antonio Silva couldn't have just beaten him up in his prime just like we saw yesterday.
Fedor's record has been padded with a lot of victories over subpar competition. If a modern heavyweight like Cain Velasquez or Alistair Overeem simply beats five or six modern elite heavyweights in a row, I'm prepared to change my opinion on who is the greatest heavyweight of all time.
But until that happens, the greatest of all time is still Fedor.