After losing to Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva in the quarterfinals of the Strikeforce HW Grand Prix, rumors are already going around that this fight was likely Fedor Emelianenko's last in the cage.
If that's true, is his legacy in any way tarnished by the way it concluded?
An emphatic no is the only possible answer for the man who shaped, reshaped, invented, and reinvented the heavyweight division, without ever stepping foot into the UFC octagon.
It's hard to imagine even the most stringent MMA fan discounting the last 11 years Emelianenko has put into the sport, let alone any fan.
It's quite clear to anyone with a little knowledge of MMA that Emelianenko's legacy in the sport is cemented regardless of what happens henceforth.
With wins over opponents like Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, Mark Coleman, Matt Lindland, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and the list goes on and on, Fedor will forever be known as the best heavyweight that was never in the UFC.
And while it's easy to knock Emelianenko and his bad trends as of late, it's important to remember that others like Chuck Liddell and Ken Shamrock, though they went out the wrong way, will always be remembered for their historical fights, legendary feuds with fighters, and their always exciting fighting styles, as Emelianenko should be remembered as well.
Is Fedor's Legend Tarnished at all even if he retires?
When Emelianenko came into the game in 2000, he wowed fans during his two years spent in the RINGS organization run by legendary Akira Maeda.
After such time, and his first loss by way of a doctor stoppage, he journeyed forth into PRIDE, where many fans soon became accustomed to Fedor's fighting style and respectful manner. Japan loved Fedor.
During his four years with PRIDE, Fedor won every single fight, all except a no contest bout against Nogueira in 2004, which he followed up with a win over Nogueira a few short months thereafter.
He dominated his opponents, leaving them with torment, anger, and bitter disappointment (see here).
The point is, if we, as MMA fans, judge Emelianenko by what he's done lately only, and not over the last 11 years, then it sets a bad example for those young gunners in the sport nowadays looking to make a mark in MMA.
Would Jose Aldo keep being as flashy and exciting now if he knew 10 years from now his career would be tarnished by a loss?
Food for thought, but if every other fighter can reinvent themselves by changing a weight class, couldn't Emelianenko do the same himself?