As one of mixed martial arts’ most polarizing figures, there’s no doubt that Fedor Emelianenko paved the way for many of the great heavyweight fighters of our time. And while many continue to question his legacy due to the fact that he has yet to compete in the UFC, no one can deny the amount of heart and the level of skill he brought to each and every one of his fights; many of them, against some of the best fighters in the sport.
Today, Evolve Daily takes a look at 5 Of Fedor Emelianenko’s Best Fights:
1) Vs. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic – PRIDE Final Conflict 2005
Back in 2003-2005, a bout between Emelianenko and Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic was the most highly anticipated and talked about heavyweight superfight the world of MMA has ever seen. Undefeated in almost five years, Emelianenko seemed almost unbeatable in the ring. And the only man fans believed had the slightest chance against him was PRIDE’s top heavyweight contender and former K-1 kickboxing star Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic.
And even though he already had 26 fights to his name at that time, it was clear that Emelianenko had never stepped foot in the ring with a striker as dangerous and skilled as “Cro Cop”. Emelianenko proved that night that he wasn’t just a phenomenal takedown artist and grappler; he dominated both on the feet and on the ground, showing the world that he had the world-class striking to win the fight via unanimous decision.
2) Vs. Brett Rogers – Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Rogers
This was the fight that helped introduce Emelianenko to the mainstream MMA fans in America. In his first ever fight inside a cage, “The Last Emperor” took on then-undefeated Brett Rogers on November 7, 2009 under the Strikeforce banner. Rogers was able to provide an exciting first round, doing a sizable amount of damage to Emelianenko in a back-and-forth scrap. Unfortunately for the American, Emelianenko returned with a vengeance in the second round, unloading on Rogers against the cage before sending him crashing to the ground with one of the most explosive one-punch knockouts you’ll ever see in MMA.
3) Vs. Tim Sylvia – Affliction: Banned
Affliction Clothing and Adrenaline MMA’s first co-promoted event, Affliction made its debut on July 19, 2008 and featured Emelianenko and former two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia as its main event. And though Sylvia might not have been the most popular champion during his days in the UFC, having beaten the likes of Andrei Arlovski, Wes Sims, Jeff Monson and Brandon Vera, he was certainly one of the most dominant.
But as soon as the bell sounded, Emelianenko disposed of Sylvia like it was clockwork, mauling the former UFC star with strikes and finishing him off with a rear-naked choke just 36 seconds into the first round. Many, including UFC President Dana White, considered Sylvia to be the first significant opponent Emelianenko had faced in a long time. Beating a former champion like Sylvia showed the critics that Emelianenko wasn’t just a hyped up fighter who had “easy” opponents; he was something much greater.
4) Vs. Kevin Randleman – PRIDE Critical Countdown 2004
Back in 2004, Emelianenko faced a former UFC Heavyweight Champion for the second time in a row as he took on two-time NCAA division 1 wrestling champion, Kevin Randleman. Emelianenko’s performance against Randleman is another example of just how good he is with dealing with adversity and pressure in the ring. After being slammed on the back of his head with one of the most beautiful suplexes in MMA history, Emelianenko stayed composed, worked his way into a reversal and ended up in side control. From there he unloaded a series of punches to Randleman before forcing the former champion to tap out with a kimura.
5) Vs. Hong Man Choi – Yarennoka!
Although much of the anticipation behind this fight was due to the fact that Hong Man Choi was a 7 ft 2 in, 315-pound goliath that outmatched Emelianenko much more in size rather than skill, it really demonstrated how technically proficient Ememlianenko truly is. It’s never easy fighting a man as massive as Hong Man Choi, and Emelianenko learnt that the hard way. He was pummelled on and overpowered by Choi for a good two minutes in the first round before slipping in a beautifully executed armbar that forced the “Korean Colossus” to tap.
Fans, fighters and experts alike will always question how Fedor Emelianenko would fare against the top heavyweights of today. But “The Last Emperor” will always be one of the greatest and most skilled fighters the world of MMA has ever seen.