Fedor Emelianenko: The Fall of a Mixed Martial Arts Legend

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Fedor Emelianenko: The Fall of a Mixed Martial Arts Legend
Tomokazu Tazawa/Getty Images

If you were to take a stroll through Hoffman Estates, Ill., on a cold Chicago night in November of 2009, you'd be hard-pressed to find an MMA fan outside of Dana White who didn't think Fedor Emelianenko was MMA's version of Beowulf. 

It was during Emelianenko's fight against Brett Rogers that the Russian heavyweight's highly touted mystique appeared mortal as opposed to mythological.

Early in the first round, Rogers connected on a left jab that landed flush upon the "Last Emperor's" nose. Suddenly, Fedor found himself breathing heavily from his mouth as a sea of crimson washed over him like a raging tsunami that threatened to erode the very legacy that took him a decade to build. 

The MMA world held their breath as the first round closed with both fighters showcasing their talents while escaping especially precarious situations. 

Emelianenko would eventually have his hand raised as the victor after a thunderous right hook nearly sent Brett Rogers's head into orbit. 

This was the last time Fedor was victorious in the hexagon. 

Fabricio Werdum, Antonio Silva, and Dan Henderson would all go on to debunk the myth of Fedor as if they were all co-hosting their very own versions of MythBusters.   

So, how did it all snowball out of control for the fighter many believed to be the baddest man on the planet?  

For Aleksander Emelianenko, it's Fedor's coaches who should take sole responsibility for Emelianenko's plight into the unknown. Aleksander publicly lambasted his brother's coaches, comparing them to "amoebas" and casually referring to them as "stopwatch" and "towel" for their lapsed game planning going into Fedor's fights with Werdum, Silva, and Henderson.

To others, Fedor's lack of patience and recklessness are to blame for his downfall. 

Take his fight against Fabricio Werdum, for example. After Fedor clipped Werdum with his fists, the latter quickly hit the canvas. Fedor then proceeded to throw caution to the wind and dove into Werdum's guard like a toddler at a summer camp who just laid eyes on a Slip 'n Slide for the first time. 

Doing so, Fedor left his arm and head haphazardly exposed, allowing Werdum to lock in an arm bar and triangle choke. 

The rest is history as Emelianenko's decade of dominance came crashing down with a tap out. 

More stunning than Emelianenko's lack of patience against Werdum was a remark about his previous fight against Rogers in which Fedor credited his timing for his victory.

"The main thing is not to be nervous, to take some time during the first round to learn a little bit about the opponent, and then to look for some weakness and then to use it," said Emelianenko.

The Russian's deviation from his own innate words of wisdom would haunt him once more in a heavyweight fight against Strikeforce's light heavyweight champion, Dan Henderson.

Fedor entered the fight against Henderson in desperate need of a victory after dropping his previous two fights to Fabricio Werdum and Antonio "Big Foot" Silva.

Dejavu struck Hoffman Estates once more on July 30, 2011.

Nearly a year and one month to the day of Emelianenko's ill-fated tap to Fabricio Werdum, Dan Henderson would find himself on the receiving end of an overanxious Fedor. 

After flooring Henderson in the first round , Emelianenko rushed in with a barrage of punches.  "Hendo" quickly found his footing by grabbing the Russian's right leg.  A perfectly timed Henderson uppercut brought the "Last Emperor" to his knees at 4:12 of the first round. 

Whatever was left of the "Fedor Mystique" was forever expunged with a patented Henderson "H-bomb" that temporarily short-circuited Emelianenko as he face-planted into the canvas.  

Caught in a string of bad luck and circumstance, the mighty Russian soon learned the hard way that lightning can strike the same place twice. 

Fresh off his third consecutive loss, fans and pundits alike are left wondering where the MMA legend goes from here. No longer is the name Fedor Emelianenko reverberating through the MMA pantheon with superlatives synonymous with greatness.

Only one thing is certain: The emperor must rise again and take his place as the greatest mixed martial artist of all time if he doesn't want his name to tail off like a faint echo drowned out by the likes of Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre. 

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