Fedor "The Last Emperor" Emelianenko lost again and, this time, there is no way to sugarcoat the result—the all-time great was flat-out dominated.
That sentence alone is enough to send shockwaves through the mixed martial arts world, but it wasn't the only significant development that arose from the ashes of Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva. Consequently, the night was a success.
Oh sure, perhaps the organization's biggest cash cow caught the figurative rubber bullet when he was pulverized by underdog Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva. Fedor came this close to officially announcing his retirement, but even if we do see the not-so-big Russian in the cage again, much of his marketing luster has been tarnished by consecutive defeats.
Getting caught in the triangle armbar by Fabricio "Vai Cavalo" Werdum is one thing. However, being pushed around by Bigfoot?
No disrespect to the big Brazilian, but that's time for considerable panic when you were once considered the best heavyweight in the world.
Yet even that black eye for Fedor and the organization couldn't completely overshadow what was an exciting card of fights.
Nobody will mistake Saturday night's slate for a beautifully technical display of mixed martial arts, that much is undeniable. The matchups were either dangerously one-sided slugfests or a few steps above your local pub on a particularly raucous evening, but nobody can complain when nine of the 10 bouts end in stoppages.
And there were more than a few intriguing developments sprinkled throughout the festivities.
With those in mind, here are the winners and losers from Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva.
Make no mistake about it—Fedor Emelianenko was the baddest man on the planet in his prime. He routinely blistered bigger men and used superior quickness/heart to rule the sport's biggest division. Alas, those days are most definitely gone.
Back at the height of his prowess, Bigfoot Silva was precisely the kind of opponent against whom Fedor would demonstrate his unique capabilities.
Back then, the fans would've been awestruck by two things: (A) the extreme size differential between the combatants; and (B) how little it mattered once the Russian Experiment began his decimation.
On Saturday, Emelianenko looked ordinary while the fans were only considering one question: Is one of the best to ever lace up six-ounce gloves done?
And that's sad.
Yes, this might be construed as a flimsy excuse to feature a shot of a lovely Brazilian sports fan—the sunlight should tip you she's not at an MMA event unless it's Abu Dhabi and it's not.
Can you blame me? I'm guessing half the population cannot.
Besides, the Brazilian MMA fans have every right to be puffing out their chests, a-hootin' and a-hollerin'.
Jose "Junior" Aldo and Anderson "The Spider" Silva are arguably the two most dominant fighters in the sport; both are Brazilian. Christiane "Cyborg" Santos is without a doubt the most dominant female gladiator and she's also Brazilian.
Take a look around at the various champions and you can add several more names to the glittering list—Junior is the UFC Featherweight Champion, the Spider is the UFC Middleweight Champion, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua is the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Ronaldo "Jacre" Souza is the Strikeforce Middleweight Champion and Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante is the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion. All are Brazilian.
How about bright up-and-comers and/or challengers?
Junior "Cigano" dos Santos, Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida, Vitor "The Phenom" Belfort, Carlos "Ta Danado" Eduardo Rocha, Charles "do Bronx" Oliveira, Demian Maia and Thiago "Pitbull" Alves have the Brazilians covered there as well.
And now you can add Bigfoot's name to Werdum's on this list of headline-grabbing stunners over the Last Emperor.
Toss those two in with the Spider's hellacious front-kick KO of Belfort and the biggest MMA stories of recent memory might as well have been written in Portuguese.
In other words, we might have a new Esquadrao de Ouro on our hands.
We get it Gina, you're cute and you know it.
Next time, save the flirting for off-camera or tone it down a bit—why not try to confine it to three or four men at a time? After all, coming on to the entire arena is a wee bit off-putting, especially when you're supposed to be there as a FIGHTER announcing her return to FIGHTING.
Either you want to be taken seriously as an athlete or you're there to be MMA's answer to Anna Kournikova.
Incidentally, I highly recommend the former because we already have the Arianny Celeste and the Octagon Girls for the latter.
And that's one battle you're definitely not gonna win.
Is there really any debate about this?
Bigfoot might not have secured his place on the genuine contenders' ladder with his escapades against Emelianenko, but you can bet your bottom dollar that the MMA universe is now paying much closer attention to the 31-year-old.
Resounding triumphs over living legends have a funny way of increasing external interest.
That's three wins in a row for Silva and only one loss (to Werdum) since 2006. The list of victims isn't too glamorous, but it does include some legitimate wows. For instance, a technical knockout of Wesley "Cabbage" Correira is nothing to sneeze at nor are wins over Ricco "Suave" Rodriguez, Justin Eilers (TKO) and Andrei "The Pit Bull" Arlovski.
The assault of Fedor is obviously his most impressive W to date, and even though it may have been a product of his sheer size more than anything else, Bigfoot deserves to be taken seriously.
Arlovski's demise against Sergei "The Russian Mercenary" Kharitonov wasn't a surprise to anyone who was remotely familiar with the ex-Russian paratrooper, but it still dropped a daisy-cutter on the Pit Bull's future prospects.
In three of his last four bouts, Andrei's been knocked out savagely. Fedor got him square on the jaw as he was leaping forward, Brett "The Grim" Rogers battered him into oblivion until the ref gave into mercy and Kharitonov's latest KO might've been the ugliest.
Making matters worse are the four previous knockouts that run the Belarusian's career total to seven.
Anyone with Arlovski's best interests at heart must think long and hard about allowing him to continue stepping into that cage. That includes the Pit Bull himself.
Kharitonov made a name for himself back in the heyday of Pride so his nighty-night of Arlovski wasn't as out-of-the-blue as it might've appeared in some circles.
This is a brute with victories over Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair "The Demolition Man" Overeem (he's also lost to Ali), Werdum, Pedro "The Rock" Rizzo when he was still a sincere badass and Semmy "Hightower" Schilt. In other words, he's no punk and he proved it against the Pit Bull.
However, Sergei's only fought twice since April of 2009 including Saturday evening's affair so there were legit concerns about ring rust, his mentality and other edges a professional fighter must have.
There's clearly room for improvement, but the Russian Mercenary showed why many were touting him as the dark horse to watch.
And why many more will be from here on out.
Overeem so feverishly wanted to be the guy to put the final stamp on Fedor Emelianenko's storied career, or at least 'Reem left that very strong impression whenever the subject arose. One might even argue the Demolition Man put on all that muscle specifically to come after the Last Emperor's throne.
That's not a criticism—what warrior worth his salt wouldn't love to be a giant killer?
Even after Vai Cavalo's submission of Emelianenko, Overeem could've been the man. He still could've been the one to chase the legend.
Everyone loses and getting caught early in a triangle armbar by a second-degree Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt is hardly something about which to fret. But the feeling in the air after Silva's destruction of the Russian was decidedly different, there was a finality about it even before Fedor hinted at retirement.
Whether or not he enters the cage again, the aura of invincibility is gone.
And so is Alistair Overeem's chance to shatter it.
Here's your biggest winner.
Not only did Werdum get a chance to topple Fedor Emelianenko while the achievement still seemed profound, but he also watched as his countryman eliminated the Last Emperor from his side of the Strikeforce World Grand Prix Heavyweight Tournament bracket.
If Vai Cavalo can get by the champ, his path to the finals no longer includes a rematch with the Russian.
Instead, he'd have a second date with Bigfoot which is a much rosier task than facing an Emelianenko closer to his elite vintage (which he presumably would've been had he gotten through Silva).
Talk about the best of both worlds—his path to the podium gets easier, but not diminished.
You can spin it any way you like, but losing Fedor Emelianenko's considerable appeal stings.
Fedor is right up there with Royce Gracie as my all-time favorite fighter, but he's looked different ever since Pride crumbled. For a while, it was the freak-show caliber of his opponent, but now he's up against quality competition and the picture is still off.
He looks uneasy. Either the sport has passed him by or he's discombobulated by the attention or he's just gotten old or something else, but the why doesn't matter for present purposes.
What does matter is that you can't consider him an elite heavyweight after the way he got manhandled by Antonio Silva.
That means Strikeforce and Coker's "best heavyweight division in the world" is down to Overeem, Werdum, Kharitonov, Josh "The Baby-Faced Assassin" Barnett plus a bunch of ifs and possiblies. Furthermore, neither the Russian Mercenary nor Barnett will have much pull right away.
If Fedor actually does retire, that's the worst-case scenario.
Even if he returns to the cage, the consecutive defeats have put a dent in his allure that's gonna be tough to punch out.
The good news is the Emelianenko loss probably helps Strikeforce in the short run.
Nothing gives a tournament some sizzle like a seismic upset and that's exactly what the Grand Prix just got. Few if any picked Bigfoot to emerge from the pairing; had the bout gone according to plan, the tourney buzz would've had to wait until Overeem vs. Werdum got things cooking.
Not any more.
To say the outcome of Saturday night's main event created a buzz is a mild understatement.
So losing Fedor hurts, but the early publicity isn't a bad salve.
It's always miserable to watch your favorite sports team go down in flames in a big moment, but the experience takes on an extra bitter tang when the favorite in question is a fighter.
Let's face it, not many athletes go out on top.
For those who participate in the combat sports, that means going out on your shield in most cases. As glorious and honorable as that imagery is, the reality is a more sordid sight. Those who saw Emelianenko lose to Silva know what I mean.
Aside from the opening salvo, Fedor never really had a chance (and that's a sentence I NEVER thought I'd write/utter).
His punches weren't harmless, but Silva wasn't reeling backwards like so many of the Last Emperor's previous adversaries. The Brazilian was concerned, but he wasn't mouse-cornered-by-a-cat terrified. Once the big fella realized he could bully Fedor without much risk to life or limb, it was pretty much over.
The takedown just expedited everything.
The loss did more than eliminate him from the tournament—at worse it ushered him into retirement and at best it reduced him to just another heavyweight.
Mauro Ranallo said it best when he said "one loss does not define a career" (I might be paraphrasing).
In the wake of two defeats and one ass whooping, his detractors will tell you that Fedor Emelianenko isn't a has-been. They'll tell you he's a never was, that he was always a chump who ruled a watered-down organization.
That's laughable. Literally—it makes me able to laugh.
The man is 31-3 with one no contest and one of the three losses is a second no contest on most planets. Got that? The 34-year-old stepped into ring or cage 35 times and suffered two—TWO—genuine defeats. More incredibly, he didn't lose until his 34th fight and his 33rd birthday.
As for the accusation that he never fought any top heavyweights, I'll direct you to his three bouts with Antonio "Minotauro" Rodrigo Nogueira, his battle with Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic and his pair of scraps with Mark "The Hammer" Coleman.
At the time, Minotauro was considered by many to be the greatest heavyweight the sport had ever seen and Fedor thumped him twice (the third was the official NC). Meanwhile, Cro Cop was considered the most dangerous striker at 265 and Emelianenko broke him.
No joke, Mirko hasn't been the same since that massacre.
The Hammer wasn't quite on par with the other two antagonists, but he was still elite.
There is a reason Fabricio Werdum was almost apologetic after beating him and Antonio Silva bowed to Fedor after pulping the right side of his face. It's the same reason so many respected voices in the sport's community call him the best heavyweight mixed martial artist of all time.
It's because one loss doesn't define a career and neither do two.