Fedor Emelianenko has made a comeback, but the question remains, will MMA fans care?
ESPN reports that the 39-year-old “Russian Bear”/”Last Emperor” TKO’d an overmatched (read: handpicked) Jaideep Singh in a fight that co-headlined RIZIN Fighting Federation’s second event.
According to the sports news site, Singh was able to break away from the first takedown attempt of Fedor Emelianenko, but ran out of gas shortly thereafter.
ESPN describes “a wall of punches” that centered up Singh for the finish.
In spite of a three-year layoff, the heavyweight headliner was able to have his way with his 28-year-old opponent. However, the reaction among MMA fans and journalists has been pretty much a collective “meh.”
Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC), the biggest MMA organization in the world, had tried to get Fedor Emelianenko on multiple occasions during his storied 28-fight unbeaten streak from 2001 to 2009.
At the time, UFC needed a force to put against their monstrous discovery in Brock Lesnar, but talks broke down when Fedor Emelianenko representatives vied for a piece of the company.
From that point, Fedor went to Showtime’s Strikeforce promotion, where he would end up losing three straight fights (one submission, two TKOs) to current UFC Heavyweight Champion Fabricio Werdum as well as current UFC stars Antonio Silva and Dan Henderson.
That last fight was a particularly exciting one despite its short length, and it’s one that propelled Henderson to a UFC run of his own.
Emelianenko closed out his fighting career — until the Singh fight anyway — with three victories: a decision win over Jeff Monson and two knockouts over Satoshi Ishii and Pedro Rizzo.
Fedor’s unwillingness to embrace a likely ill-fated run with the UFC has arguably tarnished an impressive legacy.
In September, UFC President Dana White told the MMA news site Bloody Elbow that there was nothing to report on Fedor Emelianenko.
“There is nothing to tell you. If there was, I’d tell you,” White said. “The Fedor thing has been a mystery for a very long time. We’ve obviously talked to them. I don’t know what they’re doing right now or what their plans are.”
Ownership appears to be of major importance to Fedor as it was that stipulation that initially caused talks to break down with UFC. He has been accused of being the type to want all of nothing rather than a piece of something.
As a result, he lost out on a major payday with the potential Brock Lesnar fight. Now that Lesnar has re-signed with WWE for the remainder of his career, that fight will likely never happen, and even if it did, it’s at the point now where the two men are well past their prime so fan interest would likely be non-existent.
At this point, the only UFC fight featuring Fedor Emelianenko that would sell tickets would be if he stepped into the ring with White himself.
The legend of Fedor clearly isn’t what it used to be, and now the marketability of him is in question as well. It’s a development that he — or at least his camp — has created, and barring a move to the UFC, it’s unlikely that he will be able to get back any of the old luster.
But what do you think, readers?
Was Fedor Emelianenko ever as good as his win streak would indicate, or is his “legend” the product of handpicked opponents and coming into his own at a time when the sport was in its infancy?
Do you think that there is still a little more that UFC can get out of him, or has that ship sailed? Sound off in the comments section below.
[Image of Fedor Emelianenko via Flickr Creative Commons]