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Ben vs. Ben: Strikeforce — Fedor vs. Rogers Edition

(Brett Rogers is going to miss this world, and everything in it.)

With Strikeforce on CBS — which we’ll be liveblogging, naturally — just a day away, we put the meager power of our two brains together to see if we can’t figure out a thing or two about what’s going to happen when Fedor Emelianenko and Brett Rogers get their scrap on in Chicago, and what it will all mean once it’s over.

What would Brett Rogers have to do to convince you that he’s the best heayweight in the world?  Is simply winning enough?

BF: No, sad as it is to admit, beating the world’s best heavyweight would not be enough.  If Rogers were to throw one big right hand that knocked Emelianenko out cold and left his entourage of bearded priests and shady hangers-on with their mouths agape, by the time he made it to the post-fight press conference people would already be whispering the dreaded f-word – fluke.  My gut tells me Rogers wouldn’t really give a damn.  He’d take his check and his undefeated record and publicly declare that both us and our rankings can all kiss his ass, and I wouldn’t blame him one bit. 

But for him to prove that he’s the best, Rogers would have to do more than land one lucky punch.  Stopping a takedown would help, or even just getting up on his own volition after one.  If he could get into an actual exchange with Fedor and come out with the better end of it, that would make us all sit up and take notice.  The point is, he’s such a heavy underdog here that the only chance people give him is the puncher’s chance.  If he does somehow land that killer blow, the dismissive explanation is already wired in.

The upside is, I don’t think it’s going to be an issue.  Fedor’s got this.  First-round submission.  Rogers can still up his profile by fighting well, and if he manages to take it to a decision he could expect a serious rankings bump.  But don’t put down that deposit on the ballroom for the victory party just yet.

BG: Devil’s advocate, here: Even if Rogers wins via Hail Mary haymaker — the "fluke" scenario — who else would you rank at #1? Brock goddamned Lesnar with his 4-1 record and mononucleosis? Or do you just keep Fedor at #1 because we all know that he’d still be the best heavyweight in the world, and nothing anybody can do or say could ever change that. (The "nuthugger" scenario.) No, genius, you don’t do either of those things. Because if a guy who’s known for knocking people out with looping power punches knocks Fedor Emelianenko out with a looping power punch, it’s NOT a FLUKE. It’s a massive upset, obviously. But if Rogers can make it happen, it proves that his abilities and gameplan trumped Fedor’s, at least for that night. If you’re a top ten fighter and you beat The Man, then you’re The Man. What the hell, do you really need Grim to box Fedor up and sub him with a gogo?

Now, what Rogers can do to prove to everybody that he’s the world’s best heavyweight is dominate Emelianenko for three rounds. Please, hold your laughter. I don’t mean beat the crap out of him non-stop. I just mean he’d need to do what Andrei Arlovski did for three minutes at Day of Reckoning, and do it for 15 minutes. Meaning, use his reach advantage, keep outside, be patient, land more punches, avoid the takedown, and eventually win a decision. (And please, don’t even think about throwing any flying knees.) That, my friend, would be a fluke. Is it likely to happen? No. Is it even remotely possible? No — unless Brett cuts some corners…

If Mayhem Miller can’t beat Jake Shields, does that permanently relegate him to the interesting-guy-but-not-great-fighter pile in the MMA junkyard? 

BG: If it was a little earlier in his career, I might say something like "Mayhem could come back even stronger from a loss, so let’s not count out the flamboyant hair-dyer just yet." But he’s been at this for over eight years now, and title fights on American network television aren’t easy to come by. A loss on Saturday won’t prevent Miller from getting more work in Strikeforce and Dream, but he may never have an opportunity like this ever again. If he wants to be remembered as a champion — rather than a reality-show host wth a gift for ring-entrances, which is still a far better legacy than most of us will leave behind — he’s going to need to win this fight. Luckily, he’s bigger than Shields, he’s probably a better striker, and he’s very hard to submit, so a shocking-of-the-world is a strong possibility.

BF: So you’re saying that if he wants to be remembered as a champion, he should probably go ahead and win this title fight?  Man, it’s like you have a preternatural gift for seeing through all the bullshit.  Obviously, becoming champion is a great way to be thought of as a champion.  And no, if he loses this one Miller will almost certainly never get another chance to fight for a title on network TV.  But I don’t think that a loss against Shields, who’s probably top ten as a middleweight and top two as a welterweight, means that Miller goes down in MMA history as a funny guy who never got it done in the cage.

Miller will probably never be the best in the world at any weight class, but he’s still better than 95% of the fighters out there and he’s still beat some serious ass in his career.  And he’s not just an entertainer with a mic in his hand.  Win or lose, he always puts on a show.  That may not be enough to put him in the GSP or Anderson Silva range, but it definitely keeps him out of the Bob Sapp range.

Gegard Mousasi seems primed to put on a second straight one-sided beatdown for Strikeforce. After we saw him throttle "Babalu," what’s the point of having him fight Sokoudjou?

BF: The point, near as I can figure it, is to have “Sweet Sassy” Mousasi beat some ass on network TV.  That’s all.  The more severe the ass-beating, the more impressed the American public will be, regardless of whether they know that Sokoudjou is hardly even worth getting sweaty over at this point. 

Look, we’ve been over this before.  Strikeforce doesn’t have a lot of competition to offer Mousasi right now.  Sokoudjou’s available, probably pretty cheap, and he provides an effective way for Mousasi to show off in front of a big audience.  The downside is, he has very little to gain in this fight.  If he lets Sokoudjou hang around for a while, or even, God forbid, loses to him, the Mousasi hype train turns into a rickshaw by Monday morning.  That’s always the danger with a squash match.  That, and reconstructive facial surgery for the squashee, which is far more likely here. 

BG: Yeah, that’s pretty much it. Mousasi has enough talent to be a superstar, but he still needs to be built up for the casual American light-beer drinker, one beating at a time. What bothers me about this matchup isn’t that Gegard has to fight somebody who’s not on his level — it’s this moronic "non-title" business. I know Sokoudjou hasn’t earned a shot at the belt, but if he’s the best opponent that Strikeforce can find for Mousasi at this point, then he deserves to be the champion if he can somehow pull off an upset. Mousasi may have little to gain in this fight, but Sokoudjou has virtually nothing to gain here. He’s cannon fodder, plain and simple. All he can hope for is that he survives the first round without being choked out, and makes it to the Super Hulk Finals with all his faculties intact.

In all seriousness, why do you think Fedor wears the same sweater every day? How much do you think it bothers his wife and managers?

BG: Fedor wears the same sweater every day because he’s desireless. It’s a concept that’s very hard for us Westerners to wrap our heads around. He has no interest in wealth, or fame, or getting out of the dull mining village he grew up in, even though he can now afford to move somewhere with well-reviewed restaurants and a nice downtown area. He doesn’t have an Internet connection, which would allow him to see what smartasses like us are saying about him, and if he knew, he probably wouldn’t care. It’s possible that he only has sex for procreation. The GSoAV was a gift from his wife or Father Andrey, and since it effectively provides warmth while making him look presentable in a church- or press-conference-setting, Fedor sees absolutely no reason to go out and look for another sweater. Such activities are wastes of time for a man who has children and a strict training schedule. Theoretically, he could hire a personal assistant to do his clothes shopping for him, but having a personal assistant is not something that a humble man does, in his opinion.

Vadim Finkelchtein has known Fedor long enough to understand his humility and lack of desires — how those things are deeply-rooted parts of his character — and it doesn’t bother him anymore. Actually, it makes his job easier because Fedor is very hands-off when it comes to contract negotiations. ("As long as I can afford to give 15% to the church, it’ll be enough," Fedor once told him.) And Fedor’s wife knew he was different ever since their first date, when he presented her with a weed he pulled from his grandmother’s grave, so she gets the no-desires thing too, and she wouldn’t have married him if she wasn’t on board. Jerry Millen, however, is completely freaked out by the sweater situation. He’s the type of person who packs five different Affliction hoodies for a two-day trip. But because he doesn’t want to jeopardize his spot on the M-1 gravy train — a pretty sweet gig, especially for a guy with no discernible talents — he’s decided that keeping his mouth shut is the best policy. Fedor can sense Jerry’s discomfort, and secretly enjoys it.

BF: According to what Fedor told Ariel Helwani, he just likes the sweater and hates changing clothes.  I know that’s a boring answer, but honestly, what could he have possibly said that would have justified our fascination with it at this point? 

When I was a kid I had a green and white striped sweater that my mom bought me for Christmas.  It was hideous, my friends made fun of me for it, but I wore it to school every day, even when it was much too hot for a sweater.  Why did I do this?  In part because once I started getting made fun of for it, I knew that taking it off would be like surrendering and admitting defeat.  So I wore it more or less for a full year.  Eventually I began noticing girls, and then I began noticing them not noticing me and my ugly sweater, so things had to change. 

But it’s possible that Fedor – being the best heavyweight in the world and married to a woman I can only assume is Stary Oskol’s answer to Helen of Troy – is a little more secure than I was as a kid.  He’ll wear his sweater (which is, for the record, far superior to mine in every way) and he simply can’t get himself to care about what anyone thinks.  It’s like his career.  You might think he’s bullshit because he won’t sign with the UFC and beat up Brock Lesnar, but he can’t even hear you.

Cagepotato Comments

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virpz- November 7, 2009 at 7:27 am
Loved all the talk about the GSoAV.
itsgalf- November 7, 2009 at 2:55 am
Fedor's humble attitude is a pretty big reason why I love him so much
Daoulas- November 6, 2009 at 9:40 pm
its funny how you guys are talking about if rogers wins.
Griz8WhiteHYPE- November 6, 2009 at 6:09 pm
for rogers to prove he's the man, he's got to beat fedor twice. rogers winning would make strikeforce- they could give the first for free and make you pay for #2.
and i refuse to count rogers out. ive worked retail. retail makes you want to punch people in the face. getting paid to do is simply icing on the cake.

rogers rd 2 tko.
ElTerrible78- November 6, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Believe it or not, I'm working on trying to solve that whole Fedor sending them into a downslide vs. Fedor catching them on a downslide thing. I've developed what I think is a pretty solid econometric model, and now it's just a matter of gathering the data, which is fairly straightforward but extremely fucking time consuming.
Wyatt- November 6, 2009 at 12:22 pm
If (when) Fedor wins this fight, how many does Brett Rodgers lose after? People seem to have trouble with their careers after a fight with Fedor. I know some people (Read:Dana White) say he is catching fighters on the down side of their careers, but what if he is actually sending them to the downside. Arlovski, Sylvia, Linland, Mark Hunt, Coleman, and Randleman have all been absolutely wrecked in fights after Fedor. Is there a Fedor complex at work? Does he hit so hard is scrambles their brains? Does it just take their confidence to get worked like that? who knows...
RPS13- November 6, 2009 at 12:07 pm
Fight Fan- November 6, 2009 at 12:03 pm
Sweet Sassy Mousa(shi)? Close enough.

Knee 2 tha Face- November 6, 2009 at 12:01 pm
I hope Rogers stuffs a few takedowns. Then blasts Fedors head off with an overhand followed by an uppercut. Then strikeforce crumbles like Affliction. Ha ha ha ha

Most likely Fedor will politely just take his back and choke him out!
GEM- November 6, 2009 at 11:51 am
Fedor wears the same sweater everyday, has no desire for fame and fortune, shows no emotion or expression, and rarely makes eye contact because he's probably autistic.
Jugger- November 6, 2009 at 11:40 am
Let's make "Sweet Sassy" official. I love it. Mostly because he is the polar opposite of sweet and sassy. His smug "meh" facial expression capped by a boring tan Kangol make it impossible to say "Sweet Sassy" without a smile. Hilarious.

I've really enjoyed the CBS specials on Rogers and Fedor. I already knew all that stuff about Fedor, but it's cool to see it presented with good narration and editing. Learning more about Rogers has been cool too. He is a likable dude. Anybody who can keep it together and get out of the slums of Chicago deserves a hat tip. He'll lose tomorrow night, but if he can hang for a bit and put on a good show, he'll have plenty to be proud of.
ijustcreatedanaccounttocrackwise- November 6, 2009 at 11:32 am
after loose shoes tight pussy and a warm place to shit what more do you need? I mean, REALLY need?
honkey_kong- November 6, 2009 at 11:22 am
I thought that was a pretty good summation of fedor's lack of desire. he's as close to enlightened as any fighter I've ever heard of. Fedor is the Buddha of MMA
D Boy Fresh- November 6, 2009 at 11:16 am
Mousasi has some top level competition on the way though, now that Hendo is signed with Strikeforce. Thats a fight I would love to see.
just some dong- November 6, 2009 at 11:05 am
Triple-word score for the use of "preternatural." BF wins this round.
K.E.G.- November 6, 2009 at 10:54 am
I really hope The Grim doesn't pull off the upset. He would have to win a few more high profile fights to be considered the best. But having AA and Fedor on your list of accomplishments wouldn't hurt.
Clyde- November 6, 2009 at 10:54 am
That sweater needs its own website before it takes over this one.
MGalactic- November 6, 2009 at 10:38 am
I just hope Fedor wins.
knee_strike- November 6, 2009 at 10:34 am
First. Go Fedor!