|Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin congratulates heavyweight mixed martial Fedor Emelianenko during his visit to a mixed martial arts fighting match in Moscow November 20, 2011. (REUTERS/Alexsey Druginyn/RIA Novosti/Pool)
While much of North America was fixated this past weekend on what some are now calling the greatest fight in mixed martial arts history, across the ocean the man they call The Last Emperor was trying to repair his once unassailable reputation.
Heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko (32-4) stepped into the ring on Sunday in his native Russia to take on journeyman Jeff Monson (43-13), and while the fight didn’t have the cache and interest of the epic five-rounder between Dan Henderson and Mauricio (Shogun) Rua at UFC 139, it was significant for another reason.
Fedor won for the first time since losing three consecutive matches and signalled that the old fighter some consider to be the greatest mixed martial arts heavyweight of all time still has some fight left in him.
After losing consecutive bouts to Fabricio Werdum, Antonio Silva and Henderson, Fedor, who hadn’t lost in about a decade previous to those fights, walked away from Strikeforce and his future in mixed martial arts seemed uncertain.
But a dominant victory fighting under the M-1 Global banner at the Olympic Stadium in Moscow, a victory in which Fedor reportedly dropped Monsoon on multiple occasions with vicious kicks and systematically dismantled his opponent en route to a unanimous decision, suggests that the Russian bear will not go quietly into the sunset.
No, Monson is not Henderson and he is not Rua either, but neither is he a pushover. The loss was only his second in nine fights, and the victory by the 35-year-old Fedor raises hope that the once great fighter still has some greatness left in him.
What does his future hold? It’s still a little uncertain. The former PRIDE champion’s manager, Vadim Finkelstein, suggested after the victory that a matchup with Japanese Olympic gold medallist Satoshi Ishii at DREAM’s yearend event in Japan was on tap. And then what? A crack at the UFC?
M-1 Global kingpin Evgeni Kogan tweeted to UFC president Dana White that he wants a fight between Fedor and recently dethroned heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez. “Fedor vs Velasquez in 2012, let’s make this happen. Fedor is back, and a fight w/ Cain will prove it,” the tweet said. It was quickly shot down by a “hell no!!” from White.
But the possibility of a stint in the UFC is intriguing, if White can forget about his thwarted past attempts to bring Fedor into his fold. And having the once unbeatable fighter on the card of any move into Russia, if the UFC decides to go there, would certainly be beneficial.
Can Fedor still beat the top heavyweights of the UFC? Probably not. But he can certainly beat some in the promotion’s ranks and having him back in the mix is something MMA fans would love to see.
Vladimir Putin was apparently booed heartily by fans attending the Emelianenko-Monson fight when the Russian prime minister entered the ring to congratulate Fedor for his victory. Major news outlets such as the BBC have reported on the fight and the first apparent sign of discontent within Russia towards its leader … TUF 14 coach Jason (Mayhem) Miller has been talking up his Dec. 2 fight with archrival Michael Bisping. According to Miller, Dan Henderson took Bisping’s mojo with the now legendary knockout at UFC 100 and he plans to “do the rest” during the show’s finale in Las Vegas … While UFC on Fox featured just one bout, a heavyweight title victory by Junior dos Santos over Velasqeuz, White has confirmed that UFC on Fox 2, slated for Jan. 28 in Chicago, will feature four fights. “I don’t think you’re going to see a title fight, but I don’t think you’re going to be disappointed in what you’re going to see,” White told Heavy.com … A welterweight bout between newcomer Jake Hecht (10-2 MMA, 0-0 UFC) and Rich Attonito (10-4 MMA, 3-1 UFC) has been added to the UFC 140 card in Toronto on Dec. 10 at the ACC. With that bout now official, the event has a total of 12 fights, including a light-heavyweight title clash between champion Jon Jones and ex-titleholder Lyoto Machida … MMAWeekly.com has confirmed that Mike Pyle will take on Paulo Thiago in a welterweight bout at UFC 142 in Brazil … A welterweight contender fight between Josh Koscheck and Carlos Condit is now official for UFC 143 on Super Bowl weekend. Koscheck tweeted the news on Sunday night … A bantamweight bout between Takeya Mizugaki and Chris Cariaso has been added to the preliminary card for UFC 144 in Japan … B.J. Penn has started to pen his own column for website Bleacher Report. It’s a weekly column in which Penn will write on everything from the MMA world to his own personal life ... Teammates Jon Fitch and Koscheck have told MMAWeekly.com that they will never fight each other. “If there’s no one else for me to compete with at 170 other than Koscheck, I’m going to move up (in weight),” Fitch said. While Koscheck added, “No chance. It’s not worth it to me. I would rather step away from the sport than fight Jon Fitch.”