I certainly do not wish to look past Andre Arlovski. Andre was considered by many to be the third best heavyweight behind Fedor and Nogueria. With Nogueria’s loss to Frank Mir at UFC 92, Fedor vs. Arlovski is a true battle between No. 1 vs. No. 2 in the world.
Fedor can show the world just how much separation there is between him and the rest of the MMA world with a win. Although, some people won’t be content until he fights in the UFC.
It’s worth asking who Fedor’s next opponent will be if he validates himself as the best heavyweight in the world. The clear choice would be Affliction’s other top heavyweight fighter Josh Barnett. However, Josh seems reluctant to take the fight and has avoided it in the past.
Also, it may be optimistic to believe Affliction will still be around after their “Day of Reckoning” card. President Tom Atencio has remained confident about Affliction’s future, but much hinges on how many PPV buys this fight card garners.
An obvious move for Fedor would be to sign with DREAM if Affliction folds in 2009. Many fans would like to see Fedor sign with the UFC and fight Brock Lesnar – but that doesn’t appear likely to happen anytime soon. MMA fans will have to rely on a handful of heavyweights who can provide Fedor with a glimmer of competition.
Three worthy foes
One such fighter is Alistair Overseem. Alistair has looked vicious as of late. Even Joe Rogan was impressed by Overseem’s most recent performance:
“I just watched the Badr Hari fight, and all I have to say is, Holy Shit. He looked like he was two weight classes above Hari. If Fedor continues to fight in Japan I would love to see him fight Alistair.”
It’s hard to believe Overseem used to make light heavyweight – some suggest steroids played a part. One thing that makes Overseem such a dangerous fighter is that he is equally dangerous both standing and on the ground. You may not think Overseem holds 17 career submission wins after watching his recent K-1 fight over Badr.
Another opponent is Fabricio Werdum. Werdum was recently cut by the UFC for his KO loss to Dos Santos but he is still a top 10 heavyweight. Affliction had expressed interest in his services but the price tag seemed to be too high. If Affliction does fold DREAM will be Werdum’s only viable option – like it will be for most MMA fighters not interested in or invited to the UFC.
Werdum is known for his top level BJJ, but has an ever improving stand up game. He has two TKO victories over Gabriel Gonzaga and another over Brandon Vera. He’s also submitted other top level heavyweights including Overseem and Aleksander Emelianenko (Fedor’s brother).
Sergei Kharitonov, a fellow Russian, is a third heavyweight which would be a dangerous opponent for Fedor. Sergei is another fighter who can win by TKO or submission. He traded T(KO) wins with Alistair Overseem and holds a decision win over Fabricio Werdum. Sergei does have a loss to Fedor’s brother Aleksander so a rematch between the two may be in order first.
A Dream Scenario
I would personally like to see DREAM put together a Heavyweight Grand prix tournament and recapture some of the magic of the PRIDE tournaments of old. Imagine a tournament that could include:
Fedor Emelianenko, Andre Arlovski, Josh Barnett, Alistair Overseem, Fabricio Werdum, Tim Slyvia, Mirko Cro Cop, Sergei Kharitonov, Aleksander Emelianenko, Pedro Rizzo, Jeff Monson, Roy Nelson, Ben Rothwell, Antonio Silva, Mark Hunt, Travis Wuff, Semmy Schilit, Gilbert Yvel, and Brett Rodgers.
Many of these fighters may not end up in DREAM but there would be enough great names to make it one of the best tournaments in MMA history. It also shows that the HW division outside of the UFC is still better than the HW division inside the UFC.
Fedor enjoys the diversity provided by not signing a long term and restrictive MMA contract – one reason he will never fight in the UFC. But he also likes the elite competition that MMA can provide him. Affliction may very well fold in 2009 but as long as Fedor finds competition he should have several more years of MMA dominance.
And if Brock Lesnar continues to improve to the level that most expect…we can all hope for the fight that we will all inevitably want to see – just don’t expect it to happen.
Tags: Affliction, Fedor Emelianenko, UFC