Posts Tagged ‘Bigfoot’

You have fought thirty-six times in four countries in just over ten years. You have held championship titles in three organizations, never having a belt taken from you in the ring. You spent years at the pinnacle of your sport by fighting some of the very best to ever compete, while they were in their prime, and you beat them all. You tasted defeat early and spat it back out, refusing to drink from the cup again for nine years, six months and 4 days. Millions upon millions the world over have endeared themselves to you. You lit up the faces of children all across Russia when you carried the Olympic torch. You raised the pulses of everyone who laid eyes on you in the ring, rather they be an opponent or spectator. You are the G OAT and no one has a bad word to say when asked,

“What do you think of Fedor Emelianenko?”

 

 

Humble, fearless, focused, loving, spiritual, respectful, the GREATEST, these are the words associated with the Fedor Emelianenko. Fedor has always been a quiet, calm man who never pined for the big life. He had no interest in moving to America or Japan or England, Fedor just wanted to be with his friends and family and he wanted to support them. Fedor wanted to push himself to be better at all things and he found in martial arts what he did best. From Sambo to MMA, “the Last Emperor” rose from just another Russian citizen to the most revered man in the world of combat sports. His fan base spans the globe. Fedor has talent, drive, focus, and toughness but most importantly he had mystique. He was so quiet and humble you could never figure out what was he was thinking. If you got one of the rare opportunities to ask him, his answers were either too cryptic or perhaps just too simple and honest for you to discern any real information. Fedor wasn’t going to bad mouth his opponent to try to get inside the other man’s head to gain some advantage. Or did he do it another way? Was his quiet, reserved demeanor and almost inhuman calmness just a clever ruse to make people uneasy? No one can know but Fedor. We know it wasn’t the look of him that did it.

The undersized, Russian heavyweight was short, balding, and pudgy, not exactly wielding the average fighter’s physique. It didn’t stop him from quickly reaching stardom when he began to fight in Japan. Fedor was to be tested there; gone was the level of competition in RINGS, now he would be fighting in Pride. At the time Pride was the biggest name in the sport and as such had many of the best fighters in the world fighting in their events. Fedor would never lose a single match in Pride, defeating fellow legends of the sport like Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Kazuyuki Fujita, Gary Goodridge, Kevin Randleman, Mirko “Cro Cop”, and Mark Coleman all in their primes. He didn’t always win with flash or superior skills. In fact some victories just seemed to be a battle of wills. Nothing epitomized this more than Emelianenko’s fights with Nogueira. He would take a beating if he had to but you could not break his will. Someone’s will had to break and you could be certain it would not be his. In his time in Japan he reigned as the heavyweight king of the world for three and a half years. It wasn’t just what Fedor did that made him the greatest, it was how he did it.

He wasn’t bigger and stronger than everyone. He wasn’t the greatest tactician to ever strap on 4 oz. gloves. He wasn’t the most prolific wrestler the world had ever seen. He wasn’t even the most technical striker to step into the ring. He was, however, as tough as they come. Fedor Emelianenko had a heart the size of Russia and a chin chiseled from quartz mined in the Ural Mountains, fists harder that could drive a coffin nail, and a will that would not be broken. Fedor lost a fight early in his career, his 5th fight, on a technicality. He was cut and if you’re cut you lose. It was nearly a decade before Fedor tasted defeat again. When Fedor walked into the arena in San Jose, CA no one in the world expected Fedor to lose. When Fedor found himself trapped in the guard of Werdum it looked like so many of his previous wars, all of which he has won. Even when you saw the leg come up and over to secure the triangle choke you just knew he was going to step into it and pull out, like he did against Nogueira so many times but . . . he didn’t. When his hand tapped in submission for the first time in his professional life the world sat, stunned. Everyone watching went silent. This was a fluke and it would never happen again, right?

That “fluke” took place in June of 2010 and The Emperor didn’t fight again until February of 2011. His first fight coming off of a loss in over a decade was the main event in the quarterfinal round of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix. He was a 5 to 1 favorite and was all but scheduled to fight Alistair Overeem, a highly regarded Heavyweight and the Strikeforce Champion, or get a rematch with the only man to truly defeat him, Fabricio Werdum. Everything was set up beautifully for maximum drama. Once Fedor defeated Silva and moved into the next round the world would be guaranteed a bout of epic anticipation that would reverberate throughout the world rankings.

As usual on February 12th, 2011 the smaller, older Emelianenko stepped into the ring as a heavy favorite, this time over the giant Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva. Fedor’s face locked in the same expressionless, determined gaze. The bell sounds. The fighters begin to circle and exchange blows. Silva moves about smoothly, towering over Emelianenko but, undeterred, Fedor charges in with punches landing some heavy shots and eating a few for his trouble. They engage one another in a clinch against the cage, Silva pressing on Fedor trying to tire him out. They are reset to the center of the ring and it begins again. Fedor striking . . . the fight going from standing to the clinch and eventually to the ground . . . twenty seconds . . . a flurry from both men . . . a right, a left, a right. Swinging wildly and connecting repeatedly are both fighters. DING DING! A close round, much closer than anyone expected. Fedor’s trainers speak to him in Russian, Silva’s in Portuguese. The bell sounds again. Fedor moves forward toward the center of the cage, unloading a huge overhand right and is met by the powerful, lowered shoulder of Silva. The GOAT on his back and cannot shake the bigger man from his perch. He begins to eat punishing blow after blow to the head but he defends himself and continues to try escaping his predicament. Emelianenko rolls over in an attempt to sneak out the back and the humongous BJJ black belt has the Emperor right where he wants him, but he can’t submit him. Fedor’s will shall not be broken again. He survives the rear naked choke attempt and he is again under Silva taking punishment. Another rear escape attempt and Silva tries again to choke him out. For nearly 5 minutes straight Fedor is being smothered, squeezed, choked, and pounded on by a 280 pound man whom has every intention of finishing this fight without the judges’ input. All this punishment, yet he’s still there, still fighting . . . twenty-five seconds . . . Silva has Fedor in a knee bar, but Fedor still has the capacity to reverse into a leg lock attack of his own . . . 10 seconds . . . both men attacking the other’s leg. DING DING! As Fedor rises to his feet you can’t help but notice that his right eye is completely swollen shut from the abuse but his expression is the same. His will has not been broken and he is prepared to go into the third and final round to finish this fight.

The referee and doctors call a stop to the fight. A good decision as Fedor was completely blind in his right eye due to the immense swelling. The facial expression now changes. I know that look, that’s sadness. He knows what we’re all about to hear but all hope we aren’t. This may very well be the last time we ever see him in the cage. If we never see Fedor Emelianenko fight again, we can all be proud to say we’ve seen the greatest and that we’re just fine with that.

You, Fedor Emelianenko, were the greatest heavyweight of all time, without a doubt.  Millions would say the greatest to ever step in the ring. For a decade you captivated millions and reigned atop the sport as a valiant, humble, deserving champion. In the end you went out the way a warrior should, in a blaze of glory. You took more punishment than any man should ever be able to take in a fight and you took it from a man 50 pounds larger than you and smiled, ready to go in for more. You owe us nothing, and we all owe you the immense respect you have given every opponent that you have faced. You are the GOAT. You are Fedor Emelianenko.

 

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