The greatest fighter to never fight in the UFC is without doubt, the "Russian Bear" Fedor Emelianenko.
For a period of eight years, between 2001 and 2009, he was widely considered as the greatest Mixed Martial Artist in the world. No one could come close to matching his dominance inside the ring. Emelianenko was unbeaten throughout that entire period.
In fact, to date, the Russian has lost just five matches in his 44 fight, 18-year career; a truly remarkable record.
Prior to entering MMA, Emelianenko won Gold Medals in Sambo at the World Championships as well as the Russian Championships.
From there, he debuted in MMA in 2000 for the Rings promotion before signing with Japanese company, Pride wherein he made his name in 2002. Making his first appearance in a Pride ring at Pride 21 on June 23, he defeated Dutch fighter, Sammy Schilt via Unanimous Decision.
From there, Emelianenko defeated Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira to become the second ever and ultimately final Pride Heavyweight Champion.
Emelianenko's four-year reign saw him defeat the who's who of MMA legends as he established himself as the man to beat.
When Pride closed its doors in early 2007, most observers expected him to sign with UFC. However, the Russian and UFC could not come to terms. They never did, despite many attempts at a deal over the ensuing years.
Emelianenko instead fought for Affliction, Strikeforce and most recently Bellator.
In 2018 at the age of 42, this veteran shows no signs of slowing down with a Heavyweight title bout awaiting at Bellator 214 where he bids to win a World Heavyweight Championship in a third different promotion after Pride FC and Affliction.
While his successful career shows no sign of abating, SK revisits the five best fights of Emelianenko's career to date in the following slideshow.
#5 versus Chael Sonnen (Bellator 208, October 13, 2018)
Fedor Emelianenko's most recent fight stands up as one of his best.
Pitted against former UFC superstar, Chael Sonnen in the second Semi-Final match of the Bellator Grand Prix tournament to crown a new Heavyweight Champion, the Russian had a tough encounter on his hands.
The fight lasted a little over four minutes but was an incredible display of both men's best moves although decidedly lacking in strategy.
Sonnen took Emelianenko down immediately and he also had the Russian's back early in the round but failed in his attempt to secure a rear mount.
Emelianenko scored the win, which had looked unlikely at various points to skilfully sweep Sonnen and rain down hammer fists for the Knockout victory.
A stunning performance from a veteran who proved he could still compete at the top level in the sport.