Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva—Lack In Size, Not Skill, Cost Emelianenko

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Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva—Lack In Size, Not Skill, Cost Emelianenko

The end of the final bout this past Saturday night was a sad affair to watch for any mixed martial arts fan. 

You had arguably the greatest of all time looking like a totally dejected and defeated man. His eye was completely swollen shut and he was battered with cuts and early signs of bruising. 

The second round between Antonio Silva and Fedor Emelianenko was absolute domination for the Brazilian giant. He took down, mounted and pounded on Emelianenko from the onset of the round. 

The only offense the Russian could muster was a lackadaisical kneebar in the closing seconds. 

Right away, the keyboard warriors hit the message boards and bemoaned the fact that "The Last Emperor" had been figured out. They wailed that the key to defeating him all along was by using Jiu Jitsu. 

After being submitted by ADCC champion Fabricio Werdum and being controlled by a 265-plus-pound black belt, it was clear that Emelianenko had no skills on the ground.

At least, that's what they said.

Prior to the two bouts, Emelianenko had fought and survived on the ground against notable Jiu Jitsu practitioners like Ricardo Arona, Renato Sobral and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira twice. 

Emelianenko didn't just lose those abilities; he didn't just forget how to escape submissions or sweep back to his feet.

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His first loss to Werdum was characterized more by a lapse in judgment by Fedor, and less by a lack of submission defense.

In the opening minute, Fedor connected on a shot that dropped the Brazilian. Unfortunately, the shot caught Werdum off balance and hadn't rocked him. Upon looking at replays, it was clear that Werdum had tripped.

Sensing blood, Emelianenko rushed in to finish the fight and got caught in a triangle/armbar. 

Had Emelianenko simply waited and not gone for the kill, he very likely would have won that fight.

Now, this past Saturday was a more typical defeat. Emelianenko didn't run headfirst into a submission.

He didn't just get caught: he was dominated.

While mounted, Emelianenko employed every strategy possible to try and get out from under the massive Brazilian; he tried to hip escape; he tried to turn over and sneak out behind Silva. 

Nothing worked.

Silva was just too large and too skilled of a man.

I'm not taking anything away from Silva. He is a phenomenal Jiu Jitsu fighter and other men his size would not have been able to keep Fedor down, but it seems pretty clear that size played a tremendous role in determining the outcome of the fight.

To put it bluntly, if Silva was a smaller heavyweight, Fedor escapes. But also, if Silva wasn't as skilled of a heavyweight, Fedor would have gotten out. 

Silva knew how to use his weight perfectly to keep Fedor pinned under his massive girth, and it worked beautifully.

If you need more evidence of the fact that Emelianenko is a gifted ground fighter, look no further than the multiple rear-naked chokes, and the arm-triangle choke that Silva was unable to lock in on the Russian. 

Emelianenko defended them both beautifully and was able to survive to the end of the round.

Fedor is the greatest heavyweight of all time. There really is no debate. 

To say that he lost because he wasn't skilled enough is simply ignorant. Silva used his god-given size perfectly to control and dominate the Russian. 

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