Fedor Emelianenko vs. Dan Henderson: Big Fight or Even Bigger Waste of Time?

Elton HobsonCorrespondent IJune 29, 2011

While watching Strikeforce a few weeks ago, I couldn’t help but be impressed by the repeated ads for the upcoming Dan Henderson vs. Fedor Emelianenko super fight. It reminded me of old boxing advertisements, epic and cheesy at the same time. I mean the whole setup is just perfect.

It’s the stoic Russian killer vs. the all-American hero. The titanic clash of old school vs. older school, I suppose. A battle of monosyllabic fight handles for the ages.

Fedor vs. Hendo.

I’m not going to lie, those 30-second spots left me pretty pumped. Excited, even. This is a fight that seems like a big deal. It’s a meeting of two of the sports all-time greats in a stylistic matchup that should guarantee fireworks.

I was sold. I couldn’t wait for this fight. Yet, as I sat there waiting for my MMA-induced high to subside and contemplating how many relatives I’d skip this Christmas to afford my Showtime subscription, a more ominous thought occurred to me.

What the hell does this fight even mean, anyway?

Isn’t Fedor done? Wasn’t he contemplating retirement a short while ago? If he’s not done then surely he’s “done,” having dropped back-to-back crushing defeats in his last two outings. The “Fedor Mystique” is gone, and what’s left is a fighter well outside any HW title picture and likely too advanced in years (make that ice cream cones) to make a run at 205.

And Hendo? He’s technically the Strikeforce LHW champion and riding two pretty good wins. However, I don’t think any amount of wins over an aged Fedor will erase the memory of welterweight Jake Shields riding “Dangerous Dan” like a Christmas pony for five rounds just last year. Like Fedor, Dan seems to be on the backside of “the hill” looking down.

I don’t mean to come off as disrespectful of either guy here. I’m fully aware that I’m talking about two of the heads on MMA’s Mount Rushmore. In fact, both guys are packing so much testicular fortitude that when they come fact to face the universe is in danger of imploding.

Still, does this fight actually mean anything? Does it have any implications at all in the mythical “bigger picture” besides just being a fun fight? Let’s run through all the different scenarios, shall we? For instance, this fight could have huge implications if, let’s say…


Hendo Wins 

Man, this would be big for Hendo if he were to come out with a win. It could very well be the biggest single win of his storied career. The sort of thing that could define his whole legacy.

OK, so Hendo’s legacy was “defined” when he Falcon Punched Mike Bisping out of his shoes at UFC 100. So, call this the second biggest win of his career (assuming he wins, of course). Even though his last fight was for a world title and the one before that was a title eliminator, this belt-less, “meaningless” fight would give a boost to Hendo’s career far greater than those last victories combined.

If Hendo can find a way to drive the nail in Fedor’s coffin, then I think the first thing he’ll do is laugh at all the haters who derided his jump from the UFC to Strikeforce. He’ll laugh at Dana White, who he has indirectly conned into paying him more money, just as he wanted. He’ll laugh at his friend Randy Couture, who’s big money super fight with Fedor he managed to steal. He’ll laugh at all the haters who wrote him off after the Jake Shields loss.

I see a win here giving Dan enough of a boost for one last UFC run, if and when Strikeforce gets folded into the larger organization. Maybe (big maybe) enough of a boost for one last shot at UFC gold—assuming Hendo feels like tangling with Jon Jones or Anderson Silva.


Fedor Wins

I’ll put this as simply as I can: If Fedor can turn around his recent slump and beat Henderson, then Vadim Finkelstein has a very good Sunday morning ahead of him.

I’m sorry folks. I love me some Fedor, but I don’t see a win for him here meaning very much for his career. Hendo’s (relatively) old, possibly past his moment and still under the cloud of his blowout loss to Jake Shields. Beating him isn’t going to cause the masses to come rushing back to the man once held as a living god by most MMA fans.

On the other hand, a Fedor win is just the sort of thing to put some wind in M-1 Global’s sails. In fact, I could see Finkelstein and company shooting Scott Coker an email on Monday morning with the title “RE: New Contract Demands, A**wipe!”

That’s what a Fedor win means here as far as I’m concerned. A solid but hardly significant victory for a man who’s already done it all in MMA, and a whole new reason for M-1 to be a pain in Coker’s backside and irk the hell out of fans for the next six months.


Nobody Wins

 If there’s another draw in a big fight this year, I swear MMA fans are going to riot. Aside from that, wouldn’t a draw be the perfect conclusion to this “fun” fight? Nobody loses, nobody wins. It’ll be like the fight didn’t happen, except that it did. I almost hope this happens now, actually.


Hendo/Fedor Gets KO’d

 Let the bandwagon jumping begin. “Fedor’s shot!” “Hendo’s got no chin anymore!” “Time to retire!” “None of their wins ever mattered because of this one loss!” “DEY TOOK OUR JERBS!” There’s nothing MMA fans like more then consigning another poor soul to the ol’ MMA graveyard.

Seriously though, enough of my ramblings. Do you think Fedor vs. Hendo means anything, or is it just a “fun” fight with no serious repercussions?