The Rise and Fall of Fedor Emelianenko

Fedor “The Last Emeror” Emelianenko

1) For all of history, Fedor will have in a place in discussions of the best fighter ever. He had a decade-long unbeaten streak against the best fighters in the world during the genesis of mixed martial arts. This included two former UFC heavyweight champions. His mystique is compounded by his humble and laconic demeanor and the mystery of the east.

2) Fedor stopped being relevant about five years ago when, already in the twilight of his career, he joined Strikeforce and lost three in a row. ( Now he makes a living fighting other has-beens and tarnishing what remains of his reputation.

3) Interestingly, he was born in a part of Eastern Ukraine that is now under Russian occupation. His name is Ukrainian. But he’s a closely managed tool of Russian propaganda and has appeared numerous times with Vladimir Putin. I think the Kremlin considers him an asset and they control him closely. He’ll occasionally say some idiotic patriotic nonsense.

He’s really hard to read, always calm and expressionless. That’s part of his mystique.

His downfall was somewhat Russian.

In his absolute prime (2004-2006), the UFC tried to bring him into their organization so that he could fight the other best heavyweights in the world. But he was surrounded by Russians, including one Vadim Finkelstein, his manager. UFC President Dana White has talked about how mind-blowingly idiotic and pointless it was to negotiate with the Russian.

They tried to get Dana White to build a fucking stadium in Russia as a condition of getting Fedor onto his roster. (You can imagine the extortion possibilities they had in mind.)

So Fedor went through a period of fighting freak shows, Middle weights (Matt Linland), and has beens.

The sport moved on without him.

Eventually, another organization, Strikeforce negotiated the Russians into some Frankenstien co-promotion with their M-1. Fedor won his first fight, a good showing against unknown, but dangerous Brett Rogers. In his second, he was Fedor submitted in BJJ world champion Fabricio Werdum’s triangle after looking good in the opening seconds.

His stock went down in value, and his next appearance with Strikeforce didn’t require a co-promotion. His next fight was stopped after the much bigger and rangier (but slower) “Bigfoot” Silva spent two rounds avoiding complications and jabbing him in the face.

In his next appearance, he looked good against former olympic wrestler Dan Henderson (who fights in a lower weight class), but made a mistake in the wrestling and caught a huge punch in the face that ended the fight.

Since then, he’s beaten up three has-beens and one nobody.

tldr: Greedy, corrupt Russians kept him away from the best competition during his prime, because they over valued his position and refused to compromise. So he stopped fighting the best, and the sport moved on without him. His rise, however, will remain epic.