The Last Emperor’s Curtain Call

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In what could be Fedor Emelianenko’s final fight, he lost to a man that was fighting at 185 pounds as recently as April of last year. A man that lost to Jake Shields, the most recent UFC Welterweight title contender who just lost to Georges St. Pierre at UFC 129. By six degrees of separation (really, it’s four degrees), Fedor Emelianenko lost his last fight to GSP. A man that is 50 pounds lighter than him. A man that is 6 years his senior.

Tonight, Dan Henderson survived a typical “Fedor flurry,” as both Fabricio Werdum and Antonio Silva did recently, scrambled to escape what seemed like a sure finish and dropped a right hook onto his opponent from behind. A hook that left Fedor face down on the canvas and lead to Henderson pounding Fedor out for a TKO stoppage in the first round.

Fedor looked “wild” again. Wild in the way that cost him the fight against Werdum. Dan Henderson had no reason to be scared of Fedor tonight. His aura of invincibility has been gone for over a year; no longer is Fedor Emelianenko a name that strikes fear in the hearts of his opponents. We know now that he can be submitted. He can be beaten until the doctor stops the fight and as we saw tonight, Fedor can be stopped. He can be knocked onto his face and be in enough danger that the referee needs to stop the fight. Did you ever think that Fedor would need the referee to save him?

So why take the fight then? Fedor had nothing to gain: if he won, he was beating a middleweight. If Fedor lost (and he did so in convincing style), he was losing to a middleweight. He came out and looked great for the first 15 seconds of the fight but “reckless abandon” can only get you so far.

Fedor Emelianenko could have cut weight and joined the Light Heavyweight division. That would have given this fight something that this encounter lacked: purpose. Emelianenko has always been a heavyweight fighter. He used to be considered the best in the world. He might have been the best ever, but he’s overstayed his welcome within that division. Maybe the fittest, healthiest Fedor would have been dangerous, but he doesn’t look or sound committed to the sport anymore.

What does he have left to prove? What would possess him to take the fight? Did he need to grapple with someone whose career accomplishments might mirror his own in order to recapture some of the magic from his days gone by?

Tonight’s fight was a curtain call for Fedor. This fight was Randy Couture’s fight against Lyoto Machida or Chuck Liddell’s fight with Rich Franklin. I am sure that everyone in the M-1 Global camp wanted this to be like the Tito Ortiz-Ryan Bader contest, but tonight wasn’t his night.

Fedor wanted one last hurrah to see if he still had it. Sadly, after a glorious 11-year career, he no longer does.

An Inside Pulse "original", SMS is one of the founding members of Inside Pulse and serves as the Chief Marketing Officer on the Executive Board. Smith is a fan of mixed martial arts and runs two sections of IP as Editor in Chief, and Having covered music festivals around the world as well as conducting interviews with top-class professional wrestlers and musicians, he switched gears from music coverage at Radio Exile to MMA after the first The Ultimate Fighter Finale. He resides with his wife in New York City.