Fedor Vs Rogers: Putting Ascendancy To The Test.
Fedor is an icon of dominance to many, and an almost living legend to others.*
Across the growing spectrum of MMA fans he has many kinds of admirers.* Watching his rising star in the RINGS organization, some die hard MMA junkies have been following Emelianenko since the dawning of the new millennium.* Emelianenko's stardom grew as he earned the title the "Last Emperor" in PRIDE, which was considered the major league of the sport in its glory years.* Many casual fans first learned of Fedor when he utterly demolished former UFC champion Tim Sylvia in AFFLICTION.
But Fedor has also attracted powerful enemies.
Many casual fans of MMA, and die hard UFC fanatics have aligned against Fedor in the last few years.* Dana White has launched an insidious, pervasive, yet low-level campaign to undermine his abilities and stature in the sport, mostly because White can't acquire Fedor for the UFC himself.*
White is a business man, and it is his job to hype the UFC, while downplaying all others, but has it gone beyond just salesmanship? Many of the UFC's biggest Heavyweight stars have questioned Fedor's commitment to fight the "best", and all within the same frame of time.
Meanwhile Dana White laments in interviews that Fedor "might get knocked out on Saturday", alternating between praise and dismissive comments about the Russian.* If Fedor is going to be knocked out, it should be for the UFC, and not by some loser like Rogers.
New legal movements might also show a more direct role being played by the leaders of the UFC to shut out Fedor's ability to work in the United States.* M-1 is bringing a lawsuit against AFFLICTION entertainment that basically states that the organization was more interested in working against it's partners by canceling a promotion, and backing the UFC. It's a lawyers game now, but the fact that Strikeforce has arguably the best card this November, and the only Heavyweight title defense in MMA since July, has to rankle those on the other side.
The battle lines have been drawn and the rhetoric is heating up.*
Some see Fedor as an untested "minor league" fighter who is dodging true competition in the UFC. This then pushes his adoring fans to support Emelianenko even more, and drives many to perhaps exaggerate his considerable powers.
But Regardless of the war between fans, promotions, and lawyers the facts remain.* Fedor has not been bested in almost a Decade.* And no, I won't count an illegal strike that caused a cut.* If Fedor had gotten that cut in the UFC he would have went on fighting, not to mention he avenged that "loss" in spades against Tsuyoshi Kosaka.
In a sport where few heavyweights can even make the grade, Fedor has been a beast of a competitor, and I urge those who don't take Emelianenko seriously, or just plain dislike him because of other, to do one thing; Watch his fights.
It is easy to think that Fedor is a lot of hype without seeing all of his career in motion.* To watch him pound out some of the best, to watch his speed and explosive nature, or the "crazy" as his training partners call it, or to watch his calm demeanor through it all, is to know and love Fedor Emelianenko.
One really cannot overstress the strength of his greatest weapon though, which is his chess players mind. Emelianenko has said that fighting is "100 percent mental". A fact that many great fighters, even the elite of the sport, overlook from time to time.
Fedor's exploits, his 30 career wins, and his mystique are all well documented, so lets look to Brett Rogers and Saturday night's fight.
Many believe that Rogers hard hitting knockout power and straight down the pipe style is the perfect kryptonite for this Russian superhero.* Pundits and critics alike point to Fujita and Arlovski as the blueprint for Fedor's downfall.* He can be hurt.* He can be pushed back. And, they believe, Rogers is the man to follow that blueprint to victory Saturday night.
But beyond Rogers abilities there are other factors being called into question. Some are saying Fedor's new marriage will add problems, that getting married before a big fight is always a bad idea.* Only Fedor's performance can answer that question, but his mental state has never been an issue in the past.* Some point to comments by Fedor's own trainers that he did not train hard enough before Arlovski. If Fedor wasn't on top of his game then, and still won in two minutes, that's not really a con against the man. Still others, point to his 3rd place in a world Sambo championship as proof that he is slipping, while glossing over the fact that Fedor won the 2009 Russian Sambo competition.
The only factor that truly presents itself as being a game changer will be the Cage itself.* The ring is Emelianenko's natural fighting environment, and many other great PRIDE fighters have shown "ring rust" when adapting to the challenges of a chain-linked enclosed mat.* Looking back to Fedor's fights in PRIDE no single moment stands out where the cage could have hurt his performance. The cage could actually present a true boon to the Russian experiment by making his already formidable ground game even more vicious.* No restarts to slow the action, and nowhere to hide when the sambo casting starts flying.
Beyond the media and blog talking points, this will surely be a great fight to watch regardless of how your perceptions color the match.* An undefeated knockout artist taking on a skillful master. It's a common story line in the history of great MMA fights.
Thinking back to your favorite fights there is always a sense of tension present.* The anticipation that the fight could end at any moment from a wild swing, or a quick submission.*
A Fedor fight multiplies this tension tenfold due to all of the expectations, hype, and armchair opinions.* Will your eyeballs be on the spot when Fedor is downed for the first time?* Will you see his hand raised in victory and cheer for your champion yet again?
Only Saturday night on CBS will bring the answer.
Fedor is indeed humble, and does not think that his winning streak will last forever. This unassuming nature is at the heart of why so many people admire him.* A physically impressive human force with a gentle disposition, matched to sharp mind. A heavyweight who does not pound his chest in dominance over his defeated foes, but extends a gloved hand to pick them up.*
Not even his most ardent detractor can say that Fedor is not a great ambassador for the sport. Even if he loses to Brett "The Grim" Rogers I will still be a huge fan of Fedor Emelianenko.