Last night, things went from bad to worse for Fedor Emelianenko, as he dropped back to back fights for the first time in his illustrious career. The highly decorated mixed martial artist, known as "The Last Emperor," was looking to put himself back into the win column following his shocking loss to Fabricio Wedum last June, when he was submitted at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California.
During last night's opening round of Strikeforce's opening round of the Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament, he stepped into the cage to take on native Brazilian Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva in a scheduled three round main event at the IZOD Center in East Rutherford, NJ.
After an initial period of both fighters feeling each other out, Emelianenko was the first combatant to land anything significant. The ref calls for a reset following a clinch that provided little in the way of action.
Silva began to open up and press the action, but found himself to be treated with counter shots from the former No. 1 pound for pound fighter in the world. The fight got taken to the ground, where Fedor went for a crucifix. As Silva got back to his feet, he landed a monster right hand and pressed Fedor up against the cage.
As the opening round wound down, both men found themselves eating leather.
The second round opened up with Bigfoot Silva putting Fedor on his back with a double-leg takedown. At one point, it looked as if Silva might have been able to secure a rear-naked choke, but Fedor found a way out. With Silva on top of Fedor, the monstrous hands of Silva found their target.
Desperately, Fedor rolled onto his side, where Silva applied a choke, but once again Emelianenko found a way out. With both fighters showing signs of fatigue, they traded knee bars. As the round came to a close, it appeard that Silva had evened things up, maybe even taking a one point lead for his second round dominance of the once seemingly invincible Fedor Emelianenko.
There would be no third round, as the fight was called off due to the severe swelling of Emelianenko's right eye caused by the massive shots landed by the Brazilian. And just like that, Fedor's bid to win the Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament was over, while Silva now moves on to the semi-final round with his doctor stoppage TKO win.
The 34-year-old Russian now sports a record of 31-3 and, despite having three fights left on his contract, faces an uncertain future in the sport he once dominated. Just as the case in the Werdum stunner, the over 11,000 fans in attendance, in addition to those viewing from home on Showtime, sat in disbelief.
One has to wonder how a fighter of such magnitude could descend so quickly. Once untouchable, Fedor can no longer be viewed as the heir apparent to the Strikeforce Heavyweight Championship.
It's not as if Fedor has never experienced any rough moments or adversity in his career. He certainly did, but he almost always found a way to win. However, at times last night, he appeared to be lost as he lay on his back with Silva delivering those heavy shots.
Fedor was never the fastest, strongest or held a body builder type of physique, but none of that was relevant, as he always got the job done, earning the right to be called one of the best heavyweight the sport has ever seen. Last night, he seemed far from the Fedor of old.
Despite Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker and Fedor's manager, Vadim Finkelstein, stating that their fighter will undoubtedly make his way back to the cage for another go at it, the fighter himself didn't appear to sure of it.
You play baseball. You play basketball. You don't play fighting. If a fighter's heart is no longer in it to win it, the end result could be devastating.
And if that's the case with Fedor Emelianenko, it just might be time to hang them up and appreciate the days when "The Last Emperor" ruled the heavyweight division with an iron fist.
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