(Somehow, “Ostentatious Jacket of Crushing Defeat” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. PicProps: Strikeforce)
If Saturday night truly turns out to be Fedor Emelianenko’s swan song in mixed martial arts, the saddest part will be that we had to watch him go out on a live Strikeforce broadcast that can only be described as a terrible abortion. I mean, holy shit that was bad. From Gus Johnson showing up dressed as a beautiful woman to the horribly awkward interviews with Fedor/Gina Carano to the dreadfully anticlimactic end to the main event to the announce team desperately trying to close the show ad-libbing about Sergei Kharitonov – “He looked like a young Fedor!” Johnson said (Editor’s note: No, he didn’t) — it pretty much couldn’t have been any worse. And that doesn’t even begin to consider the fact that Emelianenko lost to a guy who just almost lost to Mike Kyle.
Even still, we’re going to avoid going full-on, tearful retrospective for a bit here. Though the man himself hinted that “maybe it’s time to leave” during his postfight interview it could have just been the initial depression and lingering effects of so many blows to the head talking. Give Fedor some time to get back to the Sport Palace and whip up on some pre-pubescent sambo white belts – and let Vadim Finkelstein start dropping hints about how that mortgage ain’t gonna pay itself – and it’s possible we could see “The Last Emperor” take at least one more bite of the MMA apple. No matter what though, we’ve likely witnessed the last of him as a top heavyweight, maybe even as a relevant one. For a lot of us, that’s a frightening reality, but one we must confront. Here are 10 questions that come immediately to mind about about our Fedor-less future …
1. Is it really time to walk away?
Dude, obviously. One of Strikeforce’s mid-major heavyweights made Emelianenko look like a fighter of very little consequence last night. He was outsized and outclassed by Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in every chartable way. For a guy who has meant so much to the sport during the last decade, you’d love to see him make a graceful exit with his peerless 31-3 record still somewhat intact. Could Fedor stick around for a few more fights? Probably even win a couple? Sure, but after last night it would only feel like Tyson after Holyfield, like Jordan after he bought the Wizards, like Favre after the dick pics leaked. In other words: Just sad. Throughout his career, Emelianenko has done things no other man has been able to do. Let’s hope he can add the ability to call it quits when the time is right to that list of accomplishments.
2. Is 205-pounds a possibility?
For a normal human, yeah. For Fedor? We can’t picture it. A mortal man of Fedor’s stature would have gotten his ass down to light heavyweight years ago, but until his last pair of outings Emelianenko has never been mortal. Clearly he could cut the weight without sacrificing much more than a little baby fat, but given what we know about the man himself we’re not sure this guy is even aware there is a light heavyweight division.
3. How long have we been living this lie?
For awhile now. Fedor hasn’t quite been himself in any of his last handful of appearances. He was losing the Arlovski fight before the knockout. He was losing the Rogers fight before the knockout. Perhaps at some point while he was fighting all those cans during the last five years, the game passed him up. Either that or his skills have eroded to the point that he can no longer get away with cutting the technical corners he used to cut. The writing has been on the wall as far back as his last fight in Affliction, we just ignored it because, c’mon, this was frickin’ Fedor we were talking about.
4. Does the grand prix still matter?
It does, but it needs a good showing from Alistair Overeem now more than ever. All along, Strikeforce has been trying desperately to craft the argument that the winner of the GP will be the No. 1-2 heavyweight in the world. Except, that line of reasoning pretty much assumed the winner would be Emelianenko or The Reem. Maybe Werdum, but honestly we’re still not sure we buy into the public image of the resurgent “Vai Cavalo” that’s been all the rage since his own win over Emelianenko. Stikeforce still has a nice little tourney going, but if the final somehow turns out to be Bigfoot vs. Kharitonov, don’t let anybody feed you the line of hooey that it means anything.
5. They can’t still be thinking of putting this thing on pay-per-view, right?
Good god, no. You serious?
6. Speaking of Werdum, how much does this devalue his win over Emelianenko?
Big time. If this were college football Werdum’s “strength of schedule” would be in a tailspin now that the marquee win of his season looks like it may have come over a powder-puff squad. Don’t worry though, Fab’s upcoming bout with Overeem will pretty much tell the tale on where he’s at. If Werdum wins that one, then we can consider him a Top Five guy. Until then, the jury’s still out.
7. OK assholes, so what does this victory mean for Bigfoot?
We’re tempted to say not a lot, actually, aside from the fact he’s just one freak injury or another upset win away from the GP final. Strikeforce can do as much damage control as it wants about how the giant Top Team fighter has “always been underrated” but this fight clearly said more about Fedor’s decline than it did about Pezao’s ascension. Honestly though, we hope some so-called “MMA analyst” slots Silva as the No. 2-heavyweight in the world after this, just like a bunch of guys did with Werdum last June. That’ll be rich.
8. Are we doomed to a lifetime of Fedor comparisons, Fedor arguments and declarations that some dude is “the new Fedor”?
Unfortunately, yes. It took Gus Johnson and Mauro Ranallo all of 10 minutes following the Silva loss to draw the aforementioned ponderous association between Kharitonov and Emelianenko while they were scrambling close the show. We wish we could tell you that will be the last time some dumbass compares a random, totally undeserving fighter to The Great Man, but it won’t be. Not by a longshot.
9. Can Strikeforce take this opportunity to totally wash its hands of M-1 Global?
Let’s hope so. If any good comes out of this it’ll be that Scoot Coker can unload at least one of the giant albatrosses that perennially threaten to kill his company. Out with the Russians gangsters … in with the, uh, Japanese gangsters if SF makes good on its plan to take Barnett and Overeem overseas in April.
10. Wait. You don’t think Strikeforce will figure out a way to get him back in the tournament … do you?
It would be pretty low, even for them. On the other hand, nothing these guys can do would surprise us anymore. I mean, did you see Gus Johnson last night? The promotion that allows its play-by-play man to go on national television looking like that is capable of anything. Concocting a half-baked scheme to get Fedor back in the draw would be so dim-witted and would so kill whatever limited momentum the GP has left, that it totally seems like something Strikeforce would do. Furthermore, it would probably only open up Fedor to more physical punishment. Nobody wants to see that, so let’s hope the “Tournament Committee” plays this one straight.