Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Last Emperor's last stand?


Usually, when the word last is applied to anything, it implies there will be not another afterward. In Fedor Emelianenko's case, his nickname 'The Last Emperor' implies there will be no other MMA fighter like him after his reign. Well, The Last Emperor's reign is now over; now the question remains was this his last stand?

On Saturday the great Fedor Emelianenko (31-4, 8 KO's 16 subs), appeared to be on his way to victory. After an exciting back and forth start to his super fight against fellow legend Dan Henderson (28-8, 13 KO's, 2 subs), where each had their moments, Emelianenko (pictured @ left) appeared to take control and have 'Hendo' all but finished when he dropped him to his knees with a combination. However, just like a wounded tiger fights back when he is cornered, Henderson did the same.

As Emelianenko came in for the kill, Henderson fired off an uppercut from his knees, which caught the Russian on his jaw and seemed to finally break the mystique behind the legendary Fedor. Though he would say later that he felt the referee stopped the fight prematurely, truth is Emelianenko fell face first on the canvas stiffer than the Saddam Hussein statue fell in Firdos Square, Baghdad back in 2003. Yet, it is that denial that finally makes me believe for the first time that Emelianenko's best days are behind him.

As the Strikeforce card was about to begin, I discussed with Brian 'Goze' Garcia of MMA Junkie Radio, how a mutual friend had predicted Henderson would win by TKO. I said that I felt most people had jumped off the Fedor bandwagon much too quickly considering his previous loss was literally to a giant much bigger than him and that before that he got caught in a submission by one of the world's best heavyweight jiu-jitsu practitioners. I felt he would win last night and win pretty easily considering he was facing the Strikeforce light-heavyweight (205 lbs.) champion in a heavyweight fight. Suffice it to say, I was wrong.

Selfishly, I don't want to see Fedor Emelianenko go out on his shield riding a three fight losing streak after a ten year reign where he technically never lost. However, after seeing how he fell last night, and previously writing about and seeing former legends such as Wanderlei Silva continue to drop easily after absorbing undue punishment, I am also concerned. While he did not say either way what will happen next, he continues to state that in his life religion and family come first. Only time will tell if this was 'The Last Emperor's' last stand.

Probably lost in the shuffle of Strikeforce news this weekend, between Fedor’s third consecutive loss and Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem’s cut from the roster, is ESPN.com’s blatant disregard of the co-main event Saturday night. In their recap of Strikeforce’s Emelianenko vs. Henderson card, ESPN.com discussed the main event, and they also recapped the Daley/Woodley and Kennedy/Lawler fights. Nowhere to be found was the result of the women’s championship fight between former champ Marloes Coenen and new champion Meisha Tate.

I understand in the landscape of combat sports, women are still looked upon as a fringe commodity among the majority of fans; but the truth is these two women are extremely skilled in their craft and showed as much during four rounds on Saturday. It was a back and forth battle in which both women showed excellent skills both standing and on the ground, with Tate ultimately winning by submission. Yet, the so-called worldwide leader in sports coverage has treated them no better than the late great Rodney Dangerfield, “women still get no respect.”





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