by Damon Martin
The three words “the best ever” get thrown around at a great many athletes all over the world. From Michael Jordan being the best ever to play basketball to Wayne Gretzky being the best ever in hockey. But for the still relatively young sport of professional mixed martial arts, there have been few labeled the best ever…but Fedor Emelianenko may be just that.
With his win over top ranked competitor and highly regarded heavyweight striker, Mirko CroCop, Fedor has now dispatched of arguably the number 2 and 3 fighters in his weight class, previously defeating former Pride champion, Antonio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueria on two occasions as well. The fight with CroCop was over 2 years in the making as both men had been slated to face off before, but due to injuries and an upset loss by CroCop in last year’s Pride heavyweight Grand Prix, the two combatants had to wait until Pride’s Final Confict 2005 show to finally meet.
Despite the fact that CroCop is one of the most feared strikers in MMA, Fedor pushed the fight and took it to the ground, where he maintained control throughout. He worked inside of CroCop’s guard to land shots and make it his fight. The ground and pound control that Fedor possesses has never been seen in MMA before, not even by it’s earliest practitioners like Mark Coleman or Mark Kerr.
Fedor had his hand raised in victory once again and he remains the Pride heavyweight champion. The honest question now has to be…Is Fedor the best fighter we’ve ever seen?
The easy answer is yes because of the way the Fedor wins and has almost never lost (his one defeat was a doctor’s stoppage due to a cut to Tsuyoshi Kosaka in 2000, a loss he would later avenge). Fedor is not the biggest heavyweight to take the ring as he stands only 6’0″ tall and usually walks in at fight time around 235lbs. He is usually smiling and doesn’t show much emotion before or after he fights, but the way that he performs the minute the referee says go, speaks volumes for his greatness.
Fedor possesses one of the most brutal ground games that has ever been seen, and his submission defense has been shown as nothing short of miraculous as seen with his wins over one of the most dangerous ground fighters in Nogueira. The Russian fighter has also gone toe to toe current K-1 mainstay Gary Goodridge in a fight that ended with Fedor absolutely overwhelming Goodridge with his hands. He has also managed to defeat the originator of the “ground and pound” when he tapped out Mark Coleman in the first round of the Pride heavyweight Grand Prix.
Fedor doesn’t have much to prove the fact that he’s more than obviously the top heavyweight fighter in the world today. With his dominating performances happening over and over again, he starts to gain an aura about him that truly makes you wonder if he will ever lose again. The truth is that it may be some time before we really know who we can consider the best MMA fighter ever, but Fedor Emelianenko has gone a long way to prove he belongs on the short list.