Bloody Elbow

Brawl Sports » Fightlinker - MMA, UFC, and other funny fight crap

Fight Opinion

Five Ounces of Pain

MMA on Tap

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Esquire on Fedor

More than any of the other sweet sciences, mixed martial arts demands its practitioners learn to handle losing. None of the big names in the sport are undefeated. Few of them even boast the impressive records so common in boxing, where opponents are handpicked to ensure that the loss column remains nice and empty. Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell is 20-5, including two humiliating knockouts by Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (who has lost six times himself). Indeed, the sport's living legend, Randy "The Natural" Couture, has a decidedly un-Rocky Marciano-esque record of 16-8.

Every rule has an exception, however, and Fedor Emelianenko is it. The Russian fighter is 26-1, the only blemish due to a doctor stoppage after a technically illegal elbow strike. Relying largely on the Soviet combat system Sambo -- the Russian acronym means “self-defense without weapon” -- Fedor has the potential to be to MMA what Woods is to golf and Federer is to tennis, only more so. After all, he’s the only member of that trio who literally pummels his rivals into submission.

And now, after avenging his only defeat and destroying the competition overseas, Fedor has come to our shores and finally found a worthy opponent: The Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Last month, Fedor landed the first punch in the battle when he turned his back on Dana White and company. Ignoring the $220 million the UFC cleared from pay-per-view last year (and countless additional millions they decline to discuss), Fedor signed a contract with MMA upstart M-1 Global. Fedor instantly established M-1 Global as a credible organization and, equally importantly, denied the UFC the man considered the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

The decision has already caused a seismic shift in the MMA landscape. Randy Couture, for years the public face of the UFC, quit the league, citing its inability to set up a fight with Fedor as the deciding factor. (Couture's belief he was making half what Chuck Liddell earned didn’t help.) Sides have been drawn and camps are getting testy. UFC President Dana White -- who once thought highly enough of Fedor to predict, “I’ll have him someday” -- has suddenly downgraded his opinion, saying, "I think that Fedor is completely overrated."

In person, Fedor looks smaller -- and more dangerous -- than his listed six feet. With his shaved head, perpetual poker face, and a body that, to use F. Scott Fitzgerald’s phrase, seems capable of great leverage, he appears the way Russian President Vladimir Putin must have visualized himself when he let the Kremlin release those photos of him hunting shirtless. Unlike the M-1 executives filling the room, Fedor's in a T-shirt and jeans. He is polite but reserved. He expresses great respect for Couture (“He’s one of the best fighters, and we will have to meet to find out who is the strongest”), less so for Brazilian Renzo Gracie (a member of mixed martial arts’ first family who claims he knows Fedor’s weaknesses and how to exploit them). The fighter who inspires the most intriguing response is Mirko Cro Cop.

Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic is a former member of Croatia’s Anti-Terrorist police unit ATJ Lucko (hence Cro Cop), who became a member of the Croatian Parliament while breaking into MMA. He was 16-2-2 when he faced Fedor. He lost, of course, but it was a good showing, a loss by decision, which against Fedor practically counts as a victory. Cro Cop's record since then has been a mediocre 6-3, including defeats in his last two fights. Once poised to be a breakout star due to his devastating knockouts, he’s dropped back with the pack. What happened?
“He has to regenerate psychologically. After my fight with him, he just broke down. In his soul, something just broke down, cracked…There are some psychological problems when you have all the time fight, fight, fight, without rest."

M-1 Global hopes Fedor can quickly get back into the fight, fight, fight routine. As their most bankable star by far, the organization plans to make Fedor their centerpiece. This means arranging for him to take on the best fighters in the world, regardless of the organization that currently employs them. M-1 has made a point of putting the UFC on notice, announcing that they'll pay $1 million more than whatever the UFC is currently paying its heavyweight champion to take on Fedor.

This leads to the crucial question: Why would Americans warm to a taciturn Russian, when they’ve shown so little interest in the Klitschko brothers? (Whatever their other flaws, at least Wladimir and Vitali speak English.) The answer is on YouTube, where fans have been obsessing over Fedor's highlight reel. Watch his 2007 fight with Matt Lindland, shown below. Lindland opens a gusher over Fedor’s eye within the first 10 seconds. It’s the sort of injury that often results in a doctor’s stoppage (which is, again, the cause of Fedor’s only loss), so he needs to work fast. Within three minutes Lindland, who opened so strong, is tapping out to prevent his arm from being ripped out of its socket wookie-style. It’s thrilling because even though Fedor is desperate the victory still feels inevitable, like when the Bulls were trailing by one and ran a play for Michael Jordan.

Here is the full article from Esquire dot com.


  1. Fedor is way over rated. I thought Aorona had beated Fedor in a fight I watched as well as other close decisions to other fighters.

    When Fedor isn't fighting the best name fighters in MMA who cares about him or his past. I wouldn't pay to watch a Fedor fight unless it was against a highly ranked MMA contender.

  2. Fedor is the best heavyweight fighter of all time, and for some time to come. I agree however that I wouldn't pay for him to fight tomato cans. He needs real competition. Competition that resides currently in the UFC.

  3. I read the full article and that journalist is a can just like Fedor's upcoming opponent. Glossing over the glaring fact that M-1 CANNOT deliver on its promise to have Fedor fight the world's best heavyweights, the article goes on to present Fedor's bland personality as some kind of asset in the fight promotion game. Get's publicity I thought only Dana White could deliver.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.