Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson, Can Emelianenko Survive Another Loss?

Michael MagoulisCorrespondent IJuly 29, 2011

Courtesy of Strikeforce,
Courtesy of Strikeforce,

Fedor Emelianenko was the best in the world for nearly a decade.

Ever since his decision win over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira at PRIDE 25 to win the heavyweight championship, Fedor had put himself on top of the division and stayed there until a stunning loss to Fabricio Werdum at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum.

While the loss to Werdum is often considered to be one of the biggest upsets in MMA history, it hardly spelled the end of his career. Fedor got caught by a world class Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion.

Surprising, yet understandable.

Emelianenko went into his next fight with Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva as a heavy favorite, but the beating he suffered had people questioning whether or not his days at heavyweight were over.

He was easily controlled by a man who entered the cage around 50 pounds heavier than him and he didn't get caught—he got dominated.

At 6', 230 pounds, Fedor is small for a heavyweight, but considering that a large percentage of that weight is fat, he's at an even greater disadvantage.

Long gone are the days when undersized fighters can dominate. BJ Penn won't be a champion at welterweight again and Fedor Emelianenko won't be a champion at heavyweight again.

When the fight with Dan Henderson was announced, it had the potential to be a rebirth for the heavyweight legend. Many speculated it would be a drop down to 205 pounds where he belongs, but that wasn't the case.

The main event of Strikeforce's Fedor vs. Henderson fight card will be taking place at heavyweight and has become all but meaningless. Sure, it fits the "super fight" category, but the only thing it can determine is if Fedor's career has truly come to an end.

Former PRIDE 185 and 205 lb champion, Dan Henderson.
Former PRIDE 185 and 205 lb champion, Dan Henderson.Valerie Macon/Getty Images

Fedor Emelianenko is supposed to win on Saturday night. He has to win. Like many, including Dana White, are quick to point out, Fedor is fighting a man in Dan Henderson who made his career at 185 pounds. In a recent interview with Sports Illustrated, White stated:

"So I actually think this fight, as far as Fedor is concerned, it's a lose-lose for him. If he knocks out Dan Henderson, he knocks out a 185-pounder. If he gets knocked out, he just got knocked out by a 185-pounder."

The man has a point. Sure, Hendo is the current Strikeforce light heavyweight champion, but he's still a fairly small 205-pounder and he certainly doesn't belong at heavyweight.

As great as Dan Henderson is, a loss will likely cause many to call for Fedor's retirement and given how emotional he was after his loss to "Bigfoot" Silva, it is very possible it would happen.

Sure, it's unfair for the fans and the media to forget about Emelianenko's decade of dominance. It's unfair to question the entirety of his career and the quality of his opponents because of two, potentially three, losses.

But still, it'll prove that he is nowhere near the top of the heavyweight ladder anymore and that if he isn't going to retire, he should be dropping weight.

Given how expensive employing Fedor is in addition to the necessity to cross-promote with M-1 Global, it may not of much interest to Zuffa to continue to do so.

If he loses, how could you promote his next fight? Who would he fight next?

Of course, if Fedor wants to fight, he'll fight, but a loss to Henderson, and no one will really care to see him compete at heavyweight.

Fans like to see meaningful fights. My hope is that win, lose or draw, Emelianenko fights again at 205 pounds.

It could reinvigorate his career and make the division a lot more interesting.