Domination was once the norm for "The Last Emperor." The last opponent that tasted Fedor's true fierceness was Tim Sylvia in July 2008. Since then, Fedor's victories have become increasingly less dramatic and the final two outings have seen the Emperor appear as though he had no clothes.
Two defeats is a speed bump on a 31-fight, decade-long win streak. But to someone used to nearly divine status, it can seem like The End. And it most certainly will be if Fedor does not have an Apollo Creed to yell "what's the matter with you?!" into the Rocky 3 stage he finds himself in right now.
At 34, Fedor is six years younger than his next opponent, Dan Henderson. He's two years younger than Randy Couture was when he was on top of the light heavy division 10 years ago. And he's 10 years younger than Randy when he returned to heavyweight champion status in 2007. Chuck Liddell was a year older when he finally won the UFC light heavyweight belt.
In short, he is young enough and if he should decide to swim in the light heavy waters, he only has motivation as an obstacle.
It can be surprisingly difficult to fall from grace and then head up the hill again. But it has been done countless times before. Fedor has to want light heavyweight dominance. If he does, he will have another streak to dazzle us with.
Even if it does not equal the brilliance of the past decade, a strong UFC era run will enrich his legacy more so than bowing out with plenty of youth and vigor left in the tank.