It's official, Fedor Emelianenko is making a comeback to MMA. Now, to inform fans that have only jumped on the MMA bandwagon in the last few years, Fedor is widely regarded as the best Heavyweight of all-time. Pundits such as Dana White would argue that he can't be considered one of the best ever because he's never fought in the UFC. Actually, he's used more colorful language in the past to describe Fedor, but we'll spare you. White is incorrect in his assessment of Fedor because even though he has never competed in the UFC, his most notable wins are against guys that have all competed and held titles in the UFC at one point. Fighters such as Andrei Arlovski, Mark Coleman, Tim Sylvia and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. He also went 10 years without suffering a loss before he finally lost to Fabricio Werdum in Strikeforce (technically he lost one before, but it was a controversial stoppage due to a cut. It was also a loss that he avenged quite easily).
The problem is that the world beater that we came to know and love in PRIDE fighting is not the same Fedor that will be making his return. Since 2010, his record stands at 3-3 and he got "finished" in all 3 of those losses.
Should he sign on with the UFC, there's talks of him getting a title shot (and rematch) against Fabricio Werdum. This is sheer lunacy! Fedor's last two losses came at the hands of Antonio "Big Foot" Silva and Dan Henderson. Silva is 1-3-1 in his last five fights, while Henderson has gone 3-5 since beating Fedor. How can a title shot be justified when he's been beaten down men who aren't near the top of the division? To put things in perspective, Henderson and "Big Foot" won't even be included on this list.
15 Alexander Gustafsson
At 28 years old, Alexander Gustafsson is entering his prime and is currently ranked second overall in the UFC's Light Heavyweight division. While he competes at Light Heavyweight and Fedor is a Heavyweight, they walk around at about the same weight. Gustafsson is also four inches taller and has a near six inch reach advantage. Two years ago, Gustafsson pushed the pound for pound best, Jon Jones, to the absolute brink in their title fight. Some even feel that Gustafsson should have been awarded the decision. As for Fedor, two years ago he was comfortably retired.
14 Vitaly Minakov
Yes, we've decided to throw the Bellator Heavyweight champ into the mix. On paper, this fight makes all the sense in the world. First of all, Fedor has never had the nicest things to say about the UFC and has never come to terms with them on a deal. Naturally, one would think that he'd be more inclined to sign on with their competition. This fight would also appeal to the Russian contingency as both these men are proud Russians. Minakov has also gone on record saying: "I am not the next Fedor Emelianenko, I am the first Vitaly Minakov." The young man clearly has confidence, as most fighters would gush at the notion of being compared to Fedor. There's no question, Fedor will leave a greater legacy in comparison to Minakov, but right now, it's a fight that he would not win.
13 Anthony Johnson
In his last two defeats to Antonio Silva and Dan Henderson, Fedor's chin appeared weaker, as he got dropped and finished in both fights. To Fedor's defence, Silva and Henderson are both heavy hitters...but guess who hits even harder? Anthony Johnson. Johnson is currently ranked #1 in the UFC's Light Heavyweight division, sitting right behind champion Daniel Cormier (we all know Jon Jones is the real champ, but technically Cormier is champion until Jones decides to come take it back). He's made headlines for all the wrong reasons lately, but we can't deny Johnson's talent and raw knockout power. six of his last nine wins have come by way of KO or TKO, including a devastating barrage of punches to Alexander Gustafsson in January.
12 Luke Rockhold
A Middleweight? Remember, Dan Henderson knocked out Fedor and he's two inches shorter than Rockhold. The truth is that Rockhold is one of the most underrated fighters in all of MMA. Submissions are harder to come by these days, as all elite fighters are well versed in jiu-jitsu and can usually fend off the submissions. Justin Timberlake brought "sexy back" but Rockhold is currently bringing submissions back, as his last three wins have come by way of submission, all against top opponents. There is no man alive that has ever put a beating on Lyoto Machida like Luke Rockhold did in April. We're hard-pressed to think of a way that Fedor could win this fight, barring a freak knockout.
11 Ben Rothwell
In 2010, Ben Rothwell's name was always met with a snicker, partly due to his appearance. While he still looks as ridiculous and non-athletic as ever, Rothwell is currently riding a three-fight win streak and is ranked at #6 in the UFC at Heavyweight. Rothwell would hold a huge size advantage over Fedor and bring an iron chin to the table. Time and time again, Rothwell has shown the ability to shake off more than a few punches and rally a comeback. He looked like he was on his way out against Brendan Schaub and then, out of nowhere, he dropped him with a monster left hook. It was the same story against Alistair Overeem as Rothwell was getting dummied and fired off a counter-right hand that sent Overeem down. If he can eat punches from the K1 champion, he can surely take a few from a version of Fedor that is full of ring rust. Speaking of Overeem...
10 Alistair Overeem
"The Demolition Man" has had quite the decorated career and has faced plenty of big names, so it's amazing that Overeem and Fedor have managed to avoid each other all these years. It's a mystery as to which Overeem will show-up to fight. His body size is constantly fluctuating and we've seen him lose a lot of muscle mass since the TRT ban and since the stricter PED testing. Despite some struggles, he's still ranked #9 in the UFC and is riding a two-fight wing streak. Overeem generally starts fights at a ferocious pace and completely bypasses the "feeling out process." It would be interesting to see if Fedor could weather the early storm or if he'd end up looking skywards.
9 Travis Browne
Travis Browne is the fight that nobody wants in the UFC Heavyweight division. He's not a "name" like Andrei Arlovski or Frank Mir, yet he's one of the most dangerous fighters in the divisions, as only two of his 17 career wins have gone to the judges scorecards. The only fighter to call out Travis Browne has been Brendan Schaub and that turned out terribly for him. As the sport evolves, Heavyweights are getting bigger and better. It's getting ridiculous for fighters Fedor's size (6'0, 230 lbs) to be competing in that division. A Browne vs. Fedor matchup would likely end up looking like the early stages of Fedor vs. Hong Man Choi, except no miraculous submission this time.
8 Josh Barnett
There's history here with Fedor and Mr. Barnett. In 2009, these two were supposed to square off in the third "Affliction Banned" pay-per-view. Barnett unfortunately got busted for steroids in pre-fight screening, resulting in the event being cancelled. It also led to the entire promotion going out of business. Congratulations Josh, you shut down the company!
Nevertheless, it would have been a good fight and some were picking Barnett to win. Six years later and Barnett has not lost a step, as he is currently ranked #8 in the UFC. He met Daniel Cormier in the finals of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix and is one of the few that actually gave Cormier a good scrap. Fedor got bounced in the same tournament in the first round against Antonio Silva.
7 Stipe Miocic
Stipe Miocic is basically Mirko "Cro Cop" reincarnated. A younger, improved version, if you will. This doesn't mean that Miocic will go on to leave a better legacy than Cro Cop, it just means that as sports evolve, the athletes get better, not worse. Way back in 2005, Cro Cop and Fedor had a spectacular fight in the finals of the Pride Heavyweight Grand Prix, a fight that was even dubbed fight of the decade. While Fedor came out on top, Cro Cop gave him all he could handle. Ten years later and at 39 years old, it's unlikely that he would fare well in a fight against Cro Cop's "Mini-Me."
6 Junior Dos Santos
If not for a man by the name of Cain Velasquez, many feel that Dos Santos would still be the UFC's Heavyweight champion. Stylistically, that matchup is just a nightmare for Dos Santos as they've met three times and Velasquez clearly has his number. Granted, Dos Santos won the first tilt but it was by a fluky knockout and the amount of damage Dos Santos received in their next two fights was obscene. However, other than Cain, there's really nobody else that's been able to rival him. Dos Santos unquestionably has the best boxing in the division and his only stumbling block seems to be the threat of being taken down. If he has the time to let his hands go, his opponent is in for a long night. Even an exceptional wrestler like Shane Carwin was not able to bring him to the mat. Fedor is not known for his wrestling skills and would likely be in for a long, painful night.
5 Chris Weidman
The Middleweight Champion might be the most well rounded fighter in the game right now. It's a struggle to think of anywhere Fedor would have an advantage in this matchup. On the ground? Nope, Weidman is a black belt in jiu-jitsu under Matt Serra and Renzo Gracie. Wrestling? Definitely not, Weidman was an NCAA Division 1 wrestler. Striking? Nah, not really. Anderson Silva spent a round and a half trying to tag Weidman and could only hit him with leg-kicks and then got knocked out. This one would end badly for Fedor.
4 Daniel Cormier
DC can pretty much take anyone that isn't named Jon Jones. He's dominated both the Heavyweight and Light Heavyweight divisions. He also shocked the MMA world when he became the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix champion as an alternate. As a former Olympian in freestyle wrestling, he's the second most decorated wrestler in all of MMA (a close second to Yoel Romero). He can take the fight to the ground whenever he wants. At the same time, he is not a one-trick pony as he possesses deceivingly quick hands. He's very good at bobbing and weaving to get inside on his opponents. Would he finish Fedor? Probably not...but it would be a long one-sided decision.
3 Cain Velasquez
The man is a real life version of The Terminator. He comes forward the entire time and does not get tired. Despite his recent loss to Fabricio Werdum, Velasquez is still firmly the #1 contender and some still consider him the favorite in the rematch. While Fedor is not a product of the UFC, Velasquez is the exact opposite as all his fights except for two have taken place under the Zuffa banner. The former champ's record stands at 13-2 and all but two of his wins have come by way of KO or TKO. Velasquez would put up a relentless pace and finish Fedor at some point. Definitely a horrible idea for a comeback fight.
2 Fabricio Werdum
As mentioned above and as ridiculous as it sounds, some are clamoring for Fedor to get an immediate title shot upon his return. There's no need to beat a dead horse as this article has clearly stated the reasons why this notion is ludicrous. Werdum is the best Heavyweight in the game right now. It would be an interesting storyline to have a rematch since Werdum handed Fedor his first (real) loss, but the optics of it make no sense. It's like when Mike Tyson fought Lennox Lewis. It garnered a lot of interest and made a lot of money, but it made no sense on paper as there were probably 15 other fighters that deserved the title shot more than Tyson. It didn't make sense in practice either, as Tyson got mauled.
1 Jon Jones
Undoubtedly, the "baddest" man on the planet. His last fight against Daniel Cormier was his strongest opponent to this point. It was also the most heated rivalry we've seen in the sport as they brawled in the lobby of the MGM Grand during a promotional event. One would think that Jones would be dialed in during training camp and have his game face on. In the words of Chael Sonnen: "Jones showed up drunk, and high on cocaine and still beat-up Daniel." He is so gifted that he can do what he wants, to whoever he wants. Since 2012, Jones has crashed his Bentley and got a D.U.I, been to rehab (for a day) for cocaine, and was involved in a hit and run with a pregnant woman. Needless to say, it was time for Jones to take a break and get his life in order. Despite all this, he is the best in the game and may go down as the best ever. Fedor would be in for a world of hurt.
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