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Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Capstone to Fedor's Legacy, or Can Anyone Beat This Guy?

Even if you are not an mma enthusiast like me (which many out there comparatively would make me seem a casual fan), you have probably heard of Anderson Silva. He is consistently ranked as either the number one or number two pound-for-pound greatest fighter in the world. And he has the record and highlight reel to back that claim up. For instance, in the photo you see to the left, his kick to the face of Vitor Belfort (who is an mma legend in his own right) effectively ended their fight a little over half way into the first round. Just so you can get an idea of how talented Silva is, I have placed a video below.



In 32 mma fights over the span of the past 11 years, he has only lost four times. His last "defeat" was in 2004, and the reason he lost was because he was disqualified. His three losses prior to this (his only real ones) were all by submission. Thus he has never been knocked out once in his whole mma career...an impressive feat indeed, although it appears he has not fought many individuals who are especially known for being knock-out artists. Nonetheless, he has dominated in this sport in a way that precious few other fighters can hope to compare with. He has all of the tools a fighter could hope to possess...he can knock out opponents in a variety of ways and pull off great submissions. He has also shown himself to be uncannily durable in that he hardly ever seems to feel hurt, and on the rare occasion that he took a beating, he has held on to win. I think he could truly be called the Michael Jordan of the mma world. Is there anyone who could hope to beat Silva before he retires?

I think there is one such man, and I also think that a fight with Silva is precisely what this man needs to finish his own career on a high note. Fedor Emelianenko is one of those precious few fighters whose own career accomplishments compare to or even exceed Silva's. Like Silva, in a professional career spanning the past 11 years, Fedor has only lost three times. Although his first loss (way back in 2000) was officially recorded as a TKO, it was really due to doctor stoppage because his eye was cut; this was effectively a fluke loss. Thus in 33 fights, Emelianenko was essentially undefeated. He has shown knock-out power in his hands, lightening-quick reflexes, and a resilience that can be described in a way that is nothing short of incredible (see his own highlight video below). He has been repeatedly called the best fighter on the planet by many other individuals involved with and competing in mma and is considered by many to be among the greatest fighters ever, perhaps even the best ever.



Yet in his last two fights, Fedor has suffered defeats that are humiliating for a fighter of his caliber (although the first of these two was arguably a fluke). The latter of these defeats obviously had a profound effect on Fedor, at least in the moments that followed the fight as he stated he was considering retirement. Since then however, Fedor, along with his fighting camp, have made statements that imply he will likely continue competing. One writer has suggested Fedor's legacy may be at stake, depending on what route he takes. While some critics like Dave Doyle may be tempted to write off Fedor, even recommending that he retire, I think the Last Emperor still has some good fights left in him. If Randy Couture can adjust his training and continue fighting well (well into his forties to be specific), then Fedor, at 34, ought to be able to retool his preparation methods and continue on as well. In doing so, he also needs to return to fighting top-tier opponents in order to truly put a worthy capstone on his already beyond hall of fame level career. While a bout with fellow mma great Dan Henderson is rumored to be in the works, I think there is a more noteworthy opponent for Fedor to take on at 205 lbs.

In my humble opinion, Fedor and Silva are the two biggest legends who are still actively competing in mma. As such, it would be a match for the ages. Just as I have mentioned already about Fedor's rumored fight with Henderson, there is already another fighter who many people want to see take on Silva. Several people including casual mma fans, fellow mma fighters, and individuals involved in the UFC organization have stated that the fight they would most like to see in the upcoming years is a match-up between Silva and Georges "Rush" St-Pierre (who himself has to get through Jake Shields first). While I cannot elaborate here on why I think Fedor vs. Silva would be better than a Silva vs. GSP match-up (although this article makes a good point), I will simply offer at this point that I believe Fedor and Silva are more on the same "legendary" status than GSP and Silva (though I think GSP has already established himself as an mma legend in his own right). While GSP certainly has a chance of handing Silva his first legitimate defeat in years, I think Fedor has even more of a chance and would have more motivation to do it were he to be offered such a chance. I also think it would be a much more dramatic showdown as it would be the premier trophy of the already decadently decorated career of Fedor. In other words, the comparative advantage of Fedor potentially beating Silva outweighs that of GSP potentially beating him. It would have more benefit for Fedor than it would for GSP.

Of course, I know that in the end, I am only musing. UFC would have to overcome the obstacle of signing Fedor in the first place, and Silva would still have to be around fighting at that time. Could it happen? Do mma fans think it even should happen? I have no clue...but I do think that Fedor vs. Silva would be a great fight to watch, and could be a great finish for either man, but especially for Fedor. I'm sure a lot of fans out there would disagree with me and say this is not something that ever needs to materialize. But for all the hype of a GSP-Silva superfight, I'd like to throw out another legitimate option that fans could cry out for. If enough people were calling for it, who knows...maybe Fedor, Silva, Dana White, and all their associates might listen.

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