Even though it does not matter in the least, nothing seems to rile up MMA followers like a good old fashion pound-for-pound debate. Some push for Anderson Silva, while others campaign for the so-called Last Emperor, Fedor “M-1 Global” Emelianenko.
Of course, there is no right or wrong answer, since pound-for-pound is an entirely subjective system. However, these past two weekends have illustrated the argument against Emelianenko’s transcendent status better than any blogger ever could.
Andrei Arlovski, a fighter who has long been recognized as a top five heavyweight, was defeated on June 6 in only twenty-two seconds by prospect Brett Rogers. Five months prior, the entire MMA community bore witness to another episode of Emelianenko’s supremacy as he starched the same Arlovski late in the first round.
Roger’s victory does not directly devalue the WAMMA champion’s victory, but it is a particularly strong example of the impermanence and lack of dominance in the heavyweight division — aside from Emelianenko.
Arlovski’s image of greatness is heavily assisted by the general level of heavyweights in MMA. He earned his shot at Emelianenko by defeating the following: Roy Nelson, Ben Rothwell, Jake O’Brien, Fabricio Werdum, and Marcio Cruz.
The list includes only two fighters who‘ve spent time in the top ten, and on top of that he struggled with Nelson and O’Brien, while he failed to be his dynamic self against Werdum.
This is not to say that Arlovski is not an elite heavyweight — since he is. It does show that the term “elite” does not carry the same meaning as when it is used to describe fighters from other weight classes.
June 13 was the night of perhaps the biggest upset of the year. Ray Mercer, who at 48-years-old has surprisingly not switched to selling grills, knocked out Tim Sylvia in only nine seconds.
Much like Arlovski, Sylvia was supposed to be another intriguing challenge for Emelianenko. Instead he was submitted in a hell of a lot less time than it takes to save money on your car insurance.
While Sylvia may have been a ranked fighter until very recently, he is perhaps one of the greatest examples of the dearth of talent at heavyweight.
Despite carrying a 24-6 record, his biggest career accomplishment was reigning over the UFC’s division while most of the best heavyweights were plying their trade on the other side of the Pacific Ocean.
Since getting popped for steroids in 2003, he has scarcely looked dominant, yet remained near the top of the division until now.
As previously stated, the purpose of this article is not to call into question Emelianenko’s victories. Obviously, upsets happen in sports, and Ray Mercer and Brett Rogers have no business fighting Fedor.
However, the fact that two of the most highly thought of challengers to Emelianenko’s legacy were both laid out on consecutive weekends highlights the relative mediocrity that makes up the heavyweight division.