Fedor Emelianenko had been one of the top fighters in the world for quite some time. For ten years, the man from Russia, who was nicknamed “The Last Emperor,” emphatically beat his opponents and some of the greatest heavyweights the division had ever seen.

Emelianenko came out this past weekend and fought Pedro Rizzo in what some were calling his last fight. Emelianenko came out and finished Rizzo like the fighter that he was in Pride for many years.

Afterwards, Emelianenko called an end to his career while riding a three-fight winning streak.

The fight was pretty big for Emelianenko’s legacy, a legacy questioned by so many and accepted by just as many if not more.

Emelianenko failed to impress in the United States. However, he started off well when he made his trip to Strikeforce.

It started with a blistering knockout of Brett Rogers, who now in hindsight isn’t the big hyped-up prospect he was thought to be at the time. Then came Emelianenko’s loss to Fabricio Werdum in upset fashion. Then, with many people questioning his very legacy, Emelianenko got TKO’d in the quarterfinal round of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix.

Then, when things couldn’t possibly get worse, he faced Dan Henderson, who weighed in at 16 pounds less than Emelianenko. Henderson is a man of equal legacy, and many were torn on who would win the fight of two of the greatest fighters in Pride history. Emelianenko started strong, but failed to finish and got brutally knocked out by Henderson.

Emelianenko never fought in the United States again after compiling a 4-3 record in the States while compiling a 30-1 record in Japan and Russia.

It is understandable to question Emelianenko’s legacy. He’s a man who never fought in the UFC and who has some wins against  fighters who never amounted to anything in MMA.

To me though, a win is a win no matter how you slice it. What puts it over the edge is that Emelianenko did fight some great talent in his time with Pride as well as outside of the organization. Do I think Emelianenko could have beaten Brock Lesnar if they would have fought back when the idea of the fight was intriguing? Not really, no. Do I think Emelianenko could have been a top talent? Yes, actually, I think he would have been a top talent in the UFC until the bigger wrestlers came in to face an aging, smaller Emelianenko.

The win over Rizzo helps show that Emelianenko did have some gas left in the tank, especially after his three-fight losing streak in Strikeforce. A loss to Rizzo would have ended any thought that Emelianenko was the greatest to ever live and even that he was the greatest heavyweight MMA has ever seen.

Emelianenko ended his career against three guys who aren’t exactly household names or guys who have even done anything in MMA. He fought those last three fights with a lot to lose. He did look good in those bouts, however, and the Rizzo fight was a nice display of Emelianenko’s skill, albeit declining skill.

Emelianenko is the greatest heavyweight who ever lived, but I think by the end of Anderson Silva’s career, we’ll be saying Silva is the greatest ever. And Silva seems to already have a successor to that claim in Jon Jones. As of right now though, Emelianenko holds the title of greatest heavyweight and greatest ever with his epic fights in Pride and his masterful unbeaten streak that seemed to last a lifetime.

Photo: Fedor Emelianenko (Esther Lin/Strikeforce)

About The Author

Sal DeRose
Staff Writer

Sal hails from New Jersey and is currently training for his first MMA fight. He hopes to use his knowledge and insight to generate articles that interest and entertain you. Outside of MMA, Sal is a big fan of every other sport. He's a diehard New York sports fan, with the exception of cheering for the Packers.