Greatest of All-Time: Anderson Silva or Fedor Emelianenko?

August 27, 2011
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Anderson Silva & Fedor Emelianenko

Despite mixed martial arts’ relative young age when compared to other major sports, it’s hard not to have the discussion about who is the greatest fighter at this point in the sport’s history.

For years, most believed UFC legend Royce Gracie held that title after his incredible run through the first few tournaments kicked off the promotion back in the 1990s.

From there the attention turned to then Pride heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko, and now onto current UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.

While the “greatest of all time” arguments in any sport are just a matter of opinion, it’s still interesting to put the numbers up and compare performances because it does spark a very interesting debate.

During the peak of his 28-fight win streak through Pride and other promotions, Fedor Emelianenko finished 21 of 28 opponents by submission or TKO. Anderson Silva’s current 14-fight win streak has seen him take out 12 fighters by TKO or submission.

Both are extremely impressive, but Silva’s manager Ed Soares believes there’s one major factor that separates the Brazilian’s streak from anything Fedor was able to accomplish.

Level of competition.

“It’s not like he’s fighting just schmucks. When you compare him to Fedor ‘oh but Fedor had 30 wins.’ Yeah, Fedor had 30 wins, but do you know some of those guys he had wins against? I mean who are they?” Soares argued when talking to MMAWeekly Radio. “One of them’s an actor, one of them was a comedian, I mean no offense but Hong Man Choi? How can you compare that to the guys that Anderson has been able to beat? From Vitor Belfort to Rich Franklin to Forrest Griffin to Dan Henderson.

“If that doesn’t prove it, I don’t know what else does.”

Silva’s streak has never been matched in UFC history. He is currently riding a 14-fight win streak overall, with 13 in a row in the Octagon. Silva has defended the middleweight title eight consecutive times, and would have done it nine times had Travis Lutter made weight for their fight at UFC 67.

In the midst of that, Silva also went up to 205 pounds for two fights, one of which he won by TKO when he finished off former light heavyweight champion Forrest Griffin at UFC 101 in 2009.

The biggest criticism of Silva over the last few years have been a couple of odd performances that ended up with him getting the lion’s share of blame for poor fights. Silva went to decision only twice, but both ended in victory. Those decisions came against Demian Maia and Thales Leites. The Brazilian also appeared to have somewhat of an off night when he faced Patrick Cote at UFC 90.

Soares believes that those performances were an anomaly for the overall fight record that Silva has amassed over the last few years.

“People always say ‘when Anderson’s performances are subpar’ and I hear people saying stuff like that and I’m thinking to myself tell me another fighter whose had 13 fights in the UFC and only two of them have gone to decision? It’s ridiculous. It’s almost like he’s a victim of his own success,” Soares said.

“Because he’s went out there and just walked through people in the first two rounds in his first eight fights in the UFC, and everyone expects it’s going to be like that all the time. These guys are human. There are certain days where they’re not feeling 100-percent, but I can tell you this… to me, Anderson Silva is probably the greatest fighter of all time, and I think in history. In the future we’re going to be able to look back and everyone can confirm it.”

Like any “greatest of all time” discussion, anyone is capable of getting caught up in being a prisoner of the moment. Fedor Emelianenko has dropped off the top spot in many people’s minds because of his recent three-fight losing streak.

Still, Fedor is only 34 years old in the midst of his current troubles, while Anderson Silva sits on top of the world right now at 36 years of age. Silva has actually been competing longer that the Russian as well with his career starting in 1997, whereas Fedor began full time mixed martial arts in 2000.

Overall, both Emelianenko and Silva have compiled two of the most impressive records the sport has seen, and may ever see.

It’s the current streak that Silva has been able to put together, and will try to continue building upon when he faces Yushin Okami at UFC 134 that his manager believes is so special.

“He’s done what no one has been able to do in this sport,” Soares said about Silva.

It’s hard to argue against either fighter, but right now Anderson Silva is making a pretty convincing case.

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  • Mario

    If Anderson retains tomorrow, then he’s the current best.

    As long as he keeps winning, and Fedor keeps losing, Silva is the best in my opinion.

    Silva HAS fought the best of the best since his time in the UFC. That I won’t disagree with!

    • phrankthetank

      We’re not talking about current best, we’re talking about best ever. Silva and GSP are no doubt the current best, but are they the best of all time? Fedor went over 30 fights without being defeated, silva got beat in his 3rd fight, then got destroyed by a guy with a 5-7 record a few fights later, not to mention fedor was always a small HW and still destroyed everyone, whereas silva is a large MW. There are a lot of factors to consider besides “well silva’s winning, and now Fedor’s losing…. So silva is the best ever”

      • Prodigy815

        Silva has never been destroyed,he has been submitted yes but he has evolved.Fedor needs to cut to 205 or retire because the heavyweights now are bigger and equally skilled.

        • phrankthetank

          Watch silva vs Takase and tell me he wasn’t dominated

          • Prodigy815

            No domination is what happened tonight

    • Mario, you are absolutely right

  • Cptmats

    Fedor Easy !

    • Cptmats

      I could give a million reason why but it’s pointless, hater are alway gonna hate !

  • natpaukar7

    I really don’t know how you would measure this. Fedor won 30 in a row lets say…look at Miguel Torres’ record…not much unlike Fedor…Sean Sherk? These were similar (not exactly the same I’ll admit) records and they are not even in this running. Miguel Torres much like Fedor had an incredible record. 36-1 only loss to Ryan Ackerman…a nobody whom he avenged the loss against…He is slipping off as well like Fedor is

    With that having been said …do we consider miguel the best ever? NO. and why not…IDK…

    Okay. I say Anderson because I’d say that while he has beat up a few tomato cans…Lutter, Leites etc. I do think he could beat anyone on the planet right now with weight playing no factor in this….Lesnar vs. Silva….Silva wins by KO….see what I mean? Plus…he has absolutely destroyed…DESTROYED everyone that he has beat with the exception of the tomato cans (perhaps a protest saying give me better fighters?) just saying. Griffin…former world champion…watch the fight if you haven’t seen it…quite a joke…Dan Henderson…standup couldn’t even come close to Anderson and it was proven…Franklin…the dominant middleweight at the time stood no chance…Belfort…lucky kick? try it again…

    Fedor….I do not think all his fights were tomato cans and I’d say he fought alot ofgreats in their prime….Nogueira, Cro Cop, hong man choi (JK) destroyed Tim Sylvia…questionably after his prime but none the less dangerous…

    Overall put it this way…Silva in his prime…(right now?) versus Fedor in his prime…(3years ago?) who wins? I say Silva knocks Fedor clean out in the first round if he really wanted to….

    To me this is the question it comes down to…

    Please state opinions I’d like to see this answered.

  • natpaukar7

    And why is GSP not mentioned? he has fought and continues to fight the absolute best of the best and not as showfully but equally dominates them all.

    • shereko

      who does GSP finish? he busted koschecks face and didn’t finish… sad. A loss to Matt Serra?? That hasn’t happened to Anderson.

      • Unador

        Serra cliped GSP behind the ear. Everyone goes down when the get cliped in that spot.
        Unfortunately, Serra was patient at that point, he didn’t rush in for the finish, which ‘may’ have allowed GSP to recover. A flurry of blows is often dramitacally visual, but physically ineffective. Note: Carwin vs Lesner.
        Serra steped back, picked his shots, landed each one with cummulative effect, kept GSP off balance with excellent bjj skills and entered a dominant striking posistion GSP couldn’t recover from.
        In fact, that was the best composed finish I’ve seen. Serra couldn’t have been any calmer, and that’s what wins fights.

        besides, did you see the rematch? GSP cleary asserted himself as the superior MMA practitioner. His win in Serra vs GSP II was decisive and definitive of a superior champion. It was obvious it was a fluke he lost the first time.

      • MrAdidas

        who does GSP finish? he busted koschecks face and didn’t finish… sad. A loss to Matt Serra?? That hasn’t happened to Anderson.

        dude WTF does that have to do with being the best? “who does GSP finish” BAHAHA idiot! It’s called figthing TOP WORLD class fighters & y dont you check those same fighters GSP fought & have a look at how nany times they were finished. (I’ll give that 2 u soon).

        Y are you even bringing up Serra’s name? Serra got lucky & their 2nd fight proved it & if you knew anything (which you clearly dont) about MMA you would know that anyone who gets hit behind the ear/back of the head get KTFO or are about to get KTFO, so your point is stupid, uneducated & plain idiotic. “GSP lost to Serra (in 07) b/c he got punched behind the ear” WOW good point you fucking dummy. @ least most MMA fans know who Serra is & fought in the UFC.

        Hummm lets see who Silva lost to & how… Luiz Azeredo 15-10 (who?), Daiju Takase 9-13 (he was 4-7 b4 he fought Silva), Ryo Chonan (by flying heel hook – WTF) & Okami. 4 NON-UFC BUMS & you R talking about GSP’s loss to Serra whos in the UFC & was a Champ. BAHAHA way to do your research moron, I’ll take GSP’s record & his 2 losses to “Champs” whom he both avenged with ease, VS. Silvas 4 losses to BUMS not in the UFC & no UFC champ(s). Not to mention the skill level GSP has fought compared to the jokes Silva has fought in the MW division.

        Silva wants the #1 P4P &/or best ever MMA fighter, he better move up to LHW (stay @ MW if u want 2 @ least have a belt) and see what he can do b/c just fighting those jokes @ MW he has been for the last 5 yrs DOES NOT give him #1 P4P on the planet. NOT EVEN CLOSE!

        Fedor… hows he even considered the #1 HW, let alone the best ever! YAWN!!!

      • MrAdidas

        Ur right though Silva was NEVER embaressed like GSP was, b/c GSP has never been embaressed 3 times by no names, especially losing by a flying heel hook – BAHAHAH dummy! Find me another flying heel hook finish in a real MMA fight/organization & I’ll find you another “Matt Serra”… Couture Vs Lesnar (Randy hit behind the ear & ZZZzzzZZZ), Lyoto Vs Rua hit behind the ear or side of the head etc.

        As for the competition GSP has fought… Koscheck: 15W 5L (2L to GSP) Kos was KO’d ONCE – Hughes: 45W-8L (2L to GSP) Hughes (KO’d 4X – GSP was 1) – Serra: 11W-7L (KO’d twice) – Fitch: 23W-3L (KO’d ONCE) – BJ 16W-7L (KO’d 2) – Thiago Alves: 18W-8L (KO’d ONCE) – Dan Hardy: 23W-10 L (lost last 4) (KO’d ONCE) & Jake Shields: 26W-5L (KO’d ONCE).

        Recap: Out of the last 9 fights/8 fighters (after GSP’s loss to Serra) those 8 fighters have combined for 13 TKO/KO’s in “JUST” 236 fights, thats 1 TKO/KO every 18 fights. Yet you ass clowns who pretend to know what your talking about (who actually dont know SHIT) decide to talk shit about GSP not being able to finish his oponents… well NEWS flash morons, neither can 95% of the fighters who fought them 8. 13 TKO/KO’s in 236 fights is almost unbelievable.

        Yeah GSP has trouble finishing TOP World Class fighters, but guess what? So does everyone else who fights them. Not so sure Anderson’s level of competition or “lack thereof” is anywhere near the level of fighters GSP has fought over the last 5 yrs – NOT EVEN CLOSE! If anyone thinks differently your an idiot.

        Come on now… Silva fought Franklin X2 – Hendo – Sonnen (I guess, since he owned Silva for 23 mins) who are world class fighters & then Forrest, Marquardt & Belfort are good fighters & thats it. 3 world class fighter & 3 good fighters is Silvas “UFC resume” – WOW so impressive… WINK WINK!

        Move to LHW or enjoying being the #1 fighter who fights in the WORST division by far! Silva is the UFC version of Fedor! But Silva DESTROYS Fedor hands down.

    • Unador

      GSP is Canadian, he get’s less respect than he derserves. When is he going into the Hall of Fame? He’s certainly better than Hughs.

  • Five years from now – heck, even TWO years from now – the only argument will be who is the SECOND greatest MMA fighter of all time, after Jon Jones.

    • shereko

      By that time Jose Aldo would enter into the conversation…

  • shereko

    I’ll start with… GSP is not in the conversation until he starts to FINISH guys. Both Fedor and Anderson FINISH fights. (though lately Fedor has been finished), and in only 2 years you think Jon Jones will be mentioned with what Anderson has done in 5-6 years plus? That doesn’t sound like a fair comparison.

    Anyways, Anderson moved up and destroyed who they put in front of him… including Forrest, who is a solid gatekeeper. I do think that Fedor/Anderson are 1 and 2, but this is also a ring vs cage argument also. Which in a cage, Anderson I would say is the best ever. Styles make fights, he would have destroyed Chuck in his prime (just too fast though Chuck was the man), he would be too big/strong for GSP and GSP wouldn’t be able to finish him (ok let the GSP lovers chime in), Randy would be KO’ed, at the time Franklin at 22-1 was the best Middleweight ever in UFC and he was crushed twice… say what you want about the Meia fight or Leites but, they were scared of him and wanted it to be a BJJ match, and why do that with world BJJ champs? He is the best ever at least for the near future of the next decades conversation. GSP can enter the convo if he starts destroying some opponents in the first round. Jones enters the convo if he keeps it up undefeated for 6 years…

    • phrankthetank

      GSP shouldn’t be considered till he finishes people? GSP has done his finishing. He koed and submitted hughes in his prime, he made bj Penn quit, he dropped fitch repeatedly, he outfought Alves in every facet and beat him with a torn groin, he destroyed koscheck and made him look like an amateur twice, he absolutely embarrassed hardy when he was 4-0 in the UFC, he beat shields 50-45 ( I don’t care what any judge says) only seeing out of one eye for half the fight. If you don’t think that’s significant, put an eye patch on and spar with someone. with the exception of a fluke loss to Serra, GSP Has won his last 15 fights in the UFC against top tier talent. GSP is by far the most well rounded, most disciplined, and most humble fighter and champion in the history of the sport.

  • devine22

    Fedor!!! The streak he went on an he almost always was the smaller guy in his fights!!! But Anderson is right up there with him

  • bdono554

    I’m going old school Rickson Gracie! Undefeated, finished everyone he fought, and beat a bunch of guys before anyone even kept stats!

  • rob da rippah

    well, Fedor’s record is good but the fighters who he beat are not. With the exception of Big Nog, Randleman and CroCrop in their prime, he has fought a bunch of bums. Coleman has always been a roid freak who can’t do anything except wrestle. Arlovski and Sylvia aren’t even worth discussing. So imo, Silva is the greatest to date, key word, TO DATE

  • EKellz

    GSP to me is the easy and obvious answer with Anderson Silva running a close second. I would say Fedor is 3rd but quite frankly, Fedor has had many holes for years, he just never fought the right competiton to beat him. Most of his victories are against people you’ve probably never seen fight. The only person he’s fought that I thought going into the fight that he may lose was against big Nog. It was clear that he was too fast and athletic for Nog and thats why he beat’em. Everyone else after that, I felt he would beat. I thought that he would be Verdum, but I knew that fight would be dangerous if he got sloppy (which he did) But I never thought he’s win that tourney IMO, I felt Bigfoot Silva would beat’em. Anderson is awsome but Chael layed out the floor plan to beat him. Chael got careless, tired, or whatever and he ended up losing. But it’s clear that if you can put Anderson on his back and stay busy… He’s vulnerable. Not that that’s easy to do, but it is a glaring hole and it wasn’t the first time he’s been put down like that. Chael just happened to come the closest to winning. GSP has dominated almost every fight in a division that is filled with killing machines. Sure, maybe he hasn’t fininshed enough guys, but he’s facing the top guy everytime he fights. and he dominates. Secondly, his ability to control where the fight stays better than anyone else in the game is what sets him apart the most. He just doesn’t really have any holes. No one can match his athleticisim or overall skill set.

  • BlackDog2009

    Fedor is the greatest right now. Silva is getting there but there have been lots of substandard opponents that he faced too, don’t make it sound like he’s only faced the best as Soares likes to say. Thales Leites sucked, Patrick Cote sucked, Damian Maia sucked… they all had poor standup or poor ground game. Then there’s the cans that he fought in the Brazilian circuit… or wait, they weren’t cans because it was Silva facing them, not Fedor? See… there’s the double standard factor to consider too.

  • rampage01

    WTF are some people talking about. “GSP is not in the conversation cause he don’t finish” GTFO!

    he’s not in the conversion cause he’s in his prime and his career is far from being over. thats it.

    so because u had 4 decisions in a row he cannot be considered a great? what a dumb statement.

  • natpaukar7

    no one has mentioned Kimbo? I don’t quite understand…..

  • natpaukar7

    I’d say Rampage 01 makes a good ;point….I think GSP is in the listing for greatest of all time becuase his competition has been better consistently than silva and fedor but still I think you have to look at the few goods that each have beat and give them the benefit of the doubt that they would have won wiht tougher competition.

    GSP: hughes 2x, 1in his prime, alves, fitch Penn…these are all people who would kill nearly everyone else in the division and did so…GSP domiinated alll of them with ease.

    Silva: Franklin 2x in his prime, Griffin, Henderson, Belfort

    Again with the exception of Henderson no one gave him a challenge…

    Fedor: Big Nog, Cro Cop, Sylvia and Arlovski, past prime though…whos to say he couldn’t have beaten others in thei rprime

    It all comes down to these people fighting eachother in their prime…and ignoring weight classes…I say Silva takes all of them out…

    • RealmmaFan

      Fedor – he gets the nod because 1 he was the only undisputed champion of pride which is where silva got dominated by much MUCH SMALLER asians not to mention silva is still fighting for his legacy and as Fedor already made his HW was and still is the most stacked wieght class because of the range of wieght difference its like 4 classes in one also Silva dominated probly the weakest wieght class in UFC so not really impressive as he seems content of not fighting in LHW title which has much more higher caliber competition ISNT THAT DUCKING??

  • Unador

    They say there are no MW talent worth noting other than SIlva, and he can’t be the best because the other 185lbers suck.
    This is the UFC. Just exactly where are all the good MW at? hmm? What middle weights are everyone refferig too that are so much better than the talent pooled up in the UFC currently?
    If Middle weights are tin cans, and Silva is the only Steel Can, then he is the undisputed MW champion of the world.
    As for the best p4p fighter? It’s still Silva.
    Because Fedor fought tin cans in the HW division. And the HW division is by far the most watered down pool of talent out there. To say it covers three weight classes is a joke. HWs tend to be sloppy uncooordinated ruffians. It’s there sheer size and strength that prevents them from devoloping any skills. And it’s there sheer size that allows no talent HWs to succesfully compete against other talentless behemoths.
    So considering that, MW have to exhibit some sort of skill and talent to even enter a fight with Silva. You don’t get a MW bout because your freaking huge.
    I think GSP has fought tougher talent. I think the WW division is deep with talent, and only getting deeper. I think GSP is the pound for pound greatest MMA competitor to date, and most likely will be far into the future before someone comes along equally well rounded that dominates.
    That being said. I still feel Anderson Silva is the greatest P4P ‘Fighter’ so far. He finishes with subs or KOs in the mojority of his fights. He ffights it out aggresively, he’ll attack your strengths. He went right after Griffin, knowing he was a striker. Chose to strike with him. GSP would have employed a better strategy, and took the fight to Griffins weakness. ( which may still be striking in reality, but wasn’t the perception at the time )

    Problem is, J. Jones is fast to dethroning Silva, even this early in his career.

    I don’t see anyone comeing close to GSP’s level of overall competence in the octagon. If he would step up his aggresion a bit, take some chances and finish some guys early in the fight, then there would be no argument. He’s clearly defeated better fighters than Silva. And as young as he is, definately destined to be around a while.

  • devine22

    Realmmafan i couldnt agree more!! Fedor fought guys way over his weight!! Bigfoot was over 280 when he fought fedor!! The only reason most of these guys dont like him cause their brain washed by Dana!! He doesnt talk trash,showboat or any of that crap he just comes an fights whoever they put in front of him! All the greats fall !ALL of them Chuck,Nog ,Cro Cop, Randy, an many more to come

  • omcclave

    so disrespectful to Anderson to compare him with a bum like Fedor. Anderson ducks nobody and fedor ducks an entire organization with all the best fighters. The only similarity of the two is they both do something no one else can do, Anderson makes fighting look like ballet and effortless while fedor is the only can single handedly destroy ever organization he has been apart of with the M1 goonbahs

    • Mr. Bojangles

      Well said sir.

    • ᠢᠳᠡᠷᠪᠠᠲᠦ ᠢᠳᠡᠷᠡᠡ

      mark coleman, maurice smith, randy couture, bas rutten, kevin randelman,
      josh barnett, tim sylvia, andrei arlovski, noguiera, brock lesnar,
      cain, jds are ufc heavyweight champions and fedor fought with mark
      coleman 2x and won, with kevin randelman won, was scheduled to fight
      with barnett but barnett ducked, with arlovski and won, witch sylvia
      won, with nog 3x and won

  • clarkw90

    There is alot of talk that the UFC keeps feeding Silva cans. So, given the fact that all y’all keep saying Fedor was fed cans, now where at the same point for both. Disagree all y’all want, but you have to look at that point. You can only fight what is given to you and they both destroyed them. You have to look at the timelines when both where considered the best. Fedor fought the UFC fighters in Japan where ‘roids weren’t tested, Silva fights UFC fighters were they are tested. I don’t particularly care much for the greatest fighter of all time discussions, but at any given point in any fighter’s career, you can almsot call any one of them the next best thing, till they get beat and then they become “over rated”.

  • omcclave

    What cans has Anderson been fed? All the people he has fought are legit mma fighters. Unlike fedor who has most of his wins from kickboxer and people under his wieght class like babalu and linland. His only real fight that he ever one was his two wins against nogera. As for Anderson his first ufc was against at the time number one contender Chris leben who was on a crazy fight win streak, then he
    faced rich Franklin, then he face seven time king of
    pancreases nate marquart, then he faced tuf winner
    and ufc staple travis lutter, then he faced former Tko
    Light he champion Patrick Cote, then he faced rich Franklin again, then he moved up in wieght and beat tuf 1 winner and former IFC light hw champion forest griffen, then he faced former pride middle and light he champion Dan Henderson, then he faced basically former Where mddlewieght champion chael sonnen. And lets not forget the few victories he had in-between these fights. For any idiot who would say Anderson has faced cans you really need to watch more mma. He is truly the greatest martial artist to grace this earth

  • longtime fan


  • Travisv

    Anderson silva is a joke an a coward at 6″2 naturally 210lb should fight lhw fedor fought competition with more reach weight ect… Anderson silva will only take fights he has the clear advantage in i mean rich franklin fights its clear he just relies on his height reach advantage just clinch knee. Cheal whooped his ass an once again ufc lets anderson get away with illegal tatics tricks an moves. Some goat has to cut weight to fight smaller opponents an have the advantage just bs. Why do you think he wants gsp insted of jones he wont fight a fight that he has a disadvantage your goat is a coward no where near fedor

  • Tara Fabian

    I want to see Jon jones fight fighters just as big or bigger than him, then we can talk about him ever being the goat. Oh, and all the fighters on the GOAT list Fedor,Anderson,GSP , and Jon Jones deserve to be in this discussion. Although I do think Dan Henderson is the most forgotten one.

  • Nathan Siegel

    If Jones ever and I mean fought Cain, Jones would be rag dolled. If Cain destroyed the freak of the man that is Brock Lesnar imagine what he would do to Jon Ostrich Legs Jones. Cain has the best cardio in MMA in any weight class and he is a Heavyweight. Cain has a knockout% of 85% while Jones is only 45%. Cain is a wrestler and with his natural size would nullify anything that Jones BJJ would do to him. I’m a huge Fedor fan but if they fought both prime Fedor would have lost.( Cain vs Fedor( Cain)

  • Randy Bramstedt

    I do not see Anderson Silva near Fedor. Anderson’s fight history is composed of relatively soft opponents. Fedor took on the best in the world repeatedly. Don’t fool yourself, the best in the world during Fedor’s heyday were in Pride not the UFC. The UFC did not have the top heavyweights in the world and when Fedor faced some he destroyed them. Arlovski was asleep in minutes. Fedor defeated Overeem, Rogers, Hunt, Coleman and others all from the UFC. The best heavyweights mostly all came from Pride including the current champ Werdum. Shogun, Werdum, Nogeira, Crocop, Hunt, Overeem, etc.,etc are all original Pride fighters first. Please don’t fool yourself into thinking the UFC heavyweights of the time would have presented any serious threat to Fedor. He simply is the best I’ve seen since the early 90s when I started watching. He is also the best pound for pound since his submission skills were clearly the best. I don’t see Silva in the same league especially after double defeats to Weidman.