What if Fedor Emelianenko had signed with the UFC
- Fedor Emelianenko is arguably the greatest heavyweight in MMA history
- Could The Last Emperor succeed in today's UFC heavyweight division?
What would have UFC looked like if Fedor Emelianenko signed with the promotion? Since there's still time before the UFC makes their attempt to get back to business as usual, we can answer one of the best mysteries in MMA.
It's a simple question that has a complex answer. We are talking about the career of arguably the greatest heavyweight in MMA history. 'The Last Emperor', who fought in Rings, Pride, Affliction, M-1, and Strikeforce, before returning from retirement to join Bellator has faced the best in the game. Fedor and Daniel Cormier were like two ships passing in the night in Strikeforce. He never faced a Randy Couture, an Alistair Overeem, and of course DC to name a few.
How would prime Fedor match against the current UFC heavyweights?
Since "prime so and so vs prime so and so" really just relies on imagination, let's discuss how he would fare against today's UFC roster? Someone like Aleksei Oleinik can match him on the ground and has a cinder block jaw. But Fedor would have an edge just with his mystique. It would be interesting to see how many mid-pack fighters could give him issues. Without a doubt some would. If guys that had major firepower in their hands like Francis Ngannou or Jairzinho Rozenstruik landed cleanly, even The Last Emperor would sleep. Could someone like Junior Dos Santos's jiu-jitsu be a difference maker?
Chael Sonnen's game plan when they fought at Bellator 208 was to be faster and to out-wrestle him. It didn't work. The only thing that probably separates that plan with the one Stipe Miocic would use is he has more power and is quicker than "The American Gangster". If Derrick Lewis attempted one of those head kicks, he'd get taken down and worked over.
But the Fedor that fights in a cage is very different than the one that fought in a ring. It could be age. It could be the techniques that are different. Or it could very well be a combo of both.
Fedor has said that this is it. His retirement tour is now on, although it's temporarily on hold due to the ongoing pandemic. Less than 5 fights remain in the multi organizational champion's career. Then the reclusive and religious giant gets to spend his days with family in Russia. And train other Team Fedor fighters like the Nemkov brothers. Or will he stay away?
The one name, the one fight that many still want to see although both are in their 40's; is Emelianenko and Cormier. And that can still actually and may actually happen. Inside of a major organization? No, thanks to the UFC's refusal to cross promote. But Chael Sonnen's SUG is the perfect spot. Chael and Cormier in part are co-workers at ESPN. Sonnen said after he and Fedor fought, his respect for him grew ten folds.
SUG is organized, it's regulated, and it could use that fight to put itself onto the map for those not in the inner circles of MMA. It would be like a real life Apollo Creed vs Rocky Balboa 3rd fight. Either away from everyone, or help Chael's company grow. Once and for all answering the question; which is better and more efficient: sambo or wrestling. And then The Last Emperor could take his last bow.