Fedor Emelianenko does his little strut down the catwalk to the Strikeforce cage. Photo by Jack Bratcher for ProMMAnow.com

I don’t think there is any question that Fedor Emelianenko was the greatest heavyweight mixed martial artist on the planet from 2003-2006.

He ruled PRIDE with an iron fist, dominating Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira twice, who was the second best heavyweight in the world at the time.

In 2005, he beat Mirko Cro Cop at his own game in regards to striking, and who was also a top heavyweight at the time.

The only top heavyweight that Emelianenko didn’t defeat in his prime was Josh Barnett, whom he never fought.

Since 2005, Emelianenko hasn’t really fought the best competition and didn’t really have to since he had beaten everyone except Barnett.

The new generation of heavyweights in the world simply hadn’t emerged at this time, and Fedor chose to fight blown up middleweights and plain old freak-show fights.

However, as the sport has evolved, so has its athletes, and with the emergence of Cain Velasquez, Junior dos Santos, Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin in the UFC, there is a new front line of elite big men in today’s game.

Fedor dispatched Tim Sylvia in quick fashion after the UFC broke ties with their former champion after losing to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in 2008.  Sylvia went on to get knocked out by Ray Mercer in his very next fight.

In 2009, Fedor then dispatched another former UFC champion in Andrei Arlovski, who went on to lose his next two fights afterwards.

That is no fault of Fedor, but the losses those two guys suffered after losing to Fedor certainly did not add to his case of defeating top tier heavyweights.  On the flipside, maybe the destruction Fedor inflicted upon Arlovski and Sylvia caused their downward spiral?

Emelianenko was finally set to face-off against Josh Barnett after the win over Arlovski, but Barnett threw a monkey wrench into that beautiful scenario when he tested positive for banned substances which put a halt to the fight.

That’s no fault of Fedor either, but he had yet to defeat a top tier heavyweight since 2005.

After that fiasco, Emelianenko signed with Strikeforce and faced off against fringe top ten heavyweight Brett Rogers.  Emelianenko was battered early, but rebounded with a highlight reel knockout.

The Fedor mystique of being in trouble to win emphatically lives.

However, all of that came to a screeching halt when Fedor succumbed to an armbar in just over a minute to Fabricio Werdum in his very next fight.

It’s not that Fedor lost his very first match (not counting the Kohsaka loss), but it is who he lost to.  Werdum is a very good heavyweight, but he wasn’t considered to be top five at the time.

Still, he was probably ranked higher than the aforementioned Brett Rogers.

Werdum was looked upon as a UFC outcast of sorts.  He was (2-2) inside the promotion, losing to Junior dos Santos before being released and picked up by Strikeforce.

This brings us to the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix that will start on Saturday night.

To win the grand prix, Emelianenko will have to win three fights spread out over three events.

He’ll face Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in the very first round.  If he defeats Silva, he will face the winner of current Strikeforce champion Alistair Overeem and Fabricio Werdum in the second round.

Finally, he could potentially meet up with Josh Barnett in the finals to come full circle.

Silva, Overeem, and Werdum are all considered to be top 10 heavyweights at the moment by most.  Barnett is as well, but the steroid debacle has impacted his ranking status on a couple of fronts.

He hasn’t been as active since that happened, and you have to ask was he as good without the drugs?  Either way, it would be a signature win for Emelianenko harking back to the days he ruled the roost over in PRIDE.

Does Emelianenko’s body of work from 2003-2006 speak for itself, or does Emelianenko need to win the Strikeforce grand prix to solidify his legacy as the world’s best heavyweight?

11 thoughts on “Does Fedor Emelianenko need to win the Strikeforce Grand Prix to solidify his legacy?”
  1. Fedor’s legacy is and will be intact. However, sober heads will realize that he will always be held back by the weakness of the heavyweight division. His five biggest wins are Nogueira (twice), Mirko Filipovic, Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski. All of these fighters were top five when he fought them. However, a top-five heavyweight is not on the same level as a top-five fighter from another division.

  2. Fedor has to be the GOAT, considering the people he fought in Pride compared to Silva’s UFC contenders.

    It really seems to me like a no-brainer. GSP is the closest to displacing him in my humble opinion.

    Hell if Fedor never fought again after 2005 i think no one would be in doubt. So he beat a few ‘bums’, so what. Thales leites and patrick cote ain’t elite. And yet neither was finished.

    Lol, at least Fedor can finish ‘bums’.

  3. I agree with Richard, though I’m admittedly biased against the heavyweight division. He’s one of the best ever, but when it’s all said and done, I’ll likely rank someone like A. Silva or GSP ahead of him.

  4. I dunno…beating Nogueira twice, Mirko, Sylvia, and AA was impressive…but…it’s not enough IMO to say he’s the greatest heavyweight Ga ever. I mean..if Michael Jordan had only dominated the NBA for 3 years…would we call him the greatest as we do now? Nope. Granted it’s different sports..but still. I also think it depends on who Fedor fights in this tourney that could be impactful. For instance…if he beats Silva..then beats Overeem….then beats Barnett…well…his legacy would be cemented..but if he beat Silva..then beat Werdum…then beat Kharitonov who made it to the finals…it wouldn’t hold as much weight IMO.

  5. So if not Fedor, who is the greatest HW ever?

    I think legacies are defined by eras. Wilt wouldn’t average 40 points a game for 4 seasons today. Bob Gibson wouldn’t have a sub 3 ERA today.

    The yardstick has to be what the athlete accomplished as against his peers. Rules change. Equipment changes. Athletes evolve. Is Fedor the best HW in the world right now? I don’t know. Maybe it’s Overeem (who competes in MMA only slightly more often than Britney Spears)… maybe it’s Cain (who has had ZERO title defenses thus far). Fedor’s legacy is intact, no matter the outcome of the HW Grand Prix (which, in my opinion, only has about a 15-20% chance of playing out the way Strikeforce has drawn it up anyway).

  6. Mike..thanks for reading…I guess if his legacy is intact…then what would his legacy be iyo? That he was the best HW for 3 years, or the best heavyweight of all time?

    IMO..you can’t be the best heavyweight of all time just because you beat the best there was(except Barnett) at the time. I would agree if athlete’s prime years were only a couple of years…not to mention Fedor wasted part of his prime(numerical prime)..so at that point one can only assume what he would have done…much like your assumption about Gibson…

    I do agree about Wilt..but that’s because the NBA itself is totally different now.

  7. I understand your point. In my opinion, he is the greatest HW of all time. That’s not to say in 20 years he’ll still carry that distinction. But someone is going to have to do some pretty amazing things to overtake him.

    MMA is in its infancy as a sport. Maybe it’s even too early to start talking GOATs. The reality is, the greatest of all time, at present, is also identical to the greatest of the last 18 years.

    But given the relatively short time MMA has been around, and the average shelf-life of fighters at the highest level, I don’t know who I would put above Fedor as the greatest HW of all time. At least right now.

    Who do you think is the greatest HW of all time?

  8. I think the best HW of all time to this point as been Fedor…followed closely by Nogueira.

    I would agree that it’s too early to talk about greatest of all time…which is why I used the word legacy…Fedor is thought to be the best at this time…so would NOT winning the GP diminish where people place him in history is pretty much what I was getting at..

    IMO…it would diminish it somewhat…but if he’s able to win out..AND beat Barnett…it would add a bit more to it as well.

  9. The greastest HW of all time is Fedor, BUT that is something you should take with a huge grain of salt because the sport is only about 18 years old and was only really a “sport” for half of that.

    Either Anderson or GSP are already ahead of him IMO for Greatest fighter of all time. I don’t even think it’s that close anymore. Anderson has fought a top 5 opponent in all but three of his UFC fights. One of those was a demolition of a guy who was just the LHW champ of the world.

    20 years from now we’ll be talking about people completely different than these three IMO when talking about GOAT. The sport is evolving every year.

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