If you haven’t heard by now, Fedor Emelianenko is returning to mixed martial arts. “The Last Emperor” is considered by most fans and journalist to either be the greatest of all time, or at least in the top three of all time. The majority of his career he fought in Japan. Specifically, under the Pride Fighting Championship banner. It was a different world back then.  Many fans look back on that time with a nostalgic sense that it was the best time period for mma.

If there ever was a Mount Rushmore of the MMA forefathers, it would be remiss to exclude Fedor. So, here we are in 2015, and he is deciding to come back. At first, the thought of it is unsettling. The most recent example of fighters coming out of retirement and putting on a sad spectacle was Ken Shamrock vs. Kimbo Slice. This is different, though. While Fedor is a legend in the sport, and it feels like he should be nearing 50 years old, he isn’t. He’s only 38, and he has been healing lingering injuries for the past three years.

With competition heating up between Bellator MMA and the UFC on nearly every front they are no doubt going to be competing to sign Emelianenko. Recently, he has been spotted at a few Bellator shows and signing events. He has a relationship with Scott Coker from his years in Strikeforce too. Then again, the UFC is still light years ahead of Bellator in terms of roster, production, and financial backing. When he comes back they won’t throw him to the wolves, nor should they. Similar to an Anderson Silva or Georges St-Pierre, he has nothing left to prove. While he isn’t ancient, he isn’t young either and which ever promotion he lands in will certainly set up compelling, entertaining fights. If it leads to a title shot after a few big wins, great, but that isn’t the priority. In this weeks edition of The List I will explore the top five most compelling match ups to make for Emelianenko upon return.

 5. Alistair Overeem 
Overeem and Emelianenko have some how avoided each other their entire careers. They have fought many of the same fighters, and even fought in Pride at the same time, but they never fought each other. Overeem is getting up there in age and fight miles, and quite frankly, he hasn’t lived up to the hype in the UFC. For the first time since joining the organization he is on a two fight winning streak which has elevated his stock a bit. Once again, as with most of these match ups there is serious international appeal if they were to hold this fight in Europe, Eastern Europe, or Russia. Fedor’s nickname is “The Last Emperor” so why not fight a man that he hasn’t fought before.

4. Mirko “Cro-Cop” Filipovic

I don’t know if I’ve heard Cro-Cop’s name come up once in the discussion among MMA media as a potential opponent for Emelianenko. It’s surprising because they come from the same. There was a time when Cro-Cop and Fedor where considered to be the number two and number one fighter in the world respectively. They only fought once back in 2005 at Pride FC: Final Conflict. Fedor ended up having his hand raised, but they went the distance. Fast forward a decade, and the UFC is trying to expand their global foot print, Cr0-Cop just had a huge victory over Gabriel Gonzaga, and Fedor is coming out of retirement. The fight would generate a ton of revenue no matter where they held it.

 3. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson 

Another potential fight that no one is talking about, most likely because Rampages status as a roster member in the UFC is being decided in a legal battle. If the UFC is able to make this match up, what would be a sweeter revenge against Bellator and Scott Coker than having Rampage fight Fedor at a catchweight. The fight even seems like something Scott Coker would orchestrate. Some might say that it’s a bit of a freakshow fight, but when you think about it, it makes sense. Think about having them fight in the Japan with names like Alistair Overeem, Sho-Gun, and Hunt also filling spots on the main card. They won’t put on a Pride event in name, but they can do it with UFC branding, and it would sell.

2. Andrei Arlovski

Arlovski is yet another heavyweight who is having a late resurgence in his career. Once again, this would be a rematch, but from a slightly more recent time. In 2009 Arlovski was on a five fight win streak. Then he fought Emelianenko. Arlovski was knocked out at 3:14 of the first round and it was the beginning of a four fight skid. Since getting back into the UFC, Arlovski has put together a three fight win streak. Most importantly, his last fight against Travis Browne had members of the mma community suggesting he should be put into the title conversation. What’s a bigger fight? Arlovski fighting for the title, or Arlovski fighting to avenge his loss against Emelienko. That storyline could make this potential match up a huge fight.

 1. Antonio “Big Foot” Silva 

This is the fight that seems to be on everybody’s radar. In their first meeting Fedor was coming off of the first loss that he had suffered in a decade. That loss was handed to him by Fabricio Werdum by way of a first round submission. Whenever a fight ends quickly, whether by submission or knock out there is a general sense of, “maybe it was a fluke.” Silva made it very clear that it was the end Fedor’s reign over the division by finishing him in dominant fashion. The fight ended by doctor stoppage in round 2 because of the damage that Big Foot was able to do. Certainly, Fedor would like a chance to right that wrong. On the other hand, Silva hasn’t had a victory in two years. It would provide him the opportunity to prove that he is still a force within the division, and also give him the chance to be the only man to defeat Fedor twice.

About The Author

Michael Davis
Director, Business Development/Senior Staff Writer

Michael Davis is a seasoned professional in the world of finance. In recent years, he has worked for Fortune 500 companies and consulted at one of the largest hedge funds in the world. After working closely with a mixed martial arts management company, he realized he could apply his skills to the sport he loved. The culmination of his professional experience and passion for MMA have led him to his role as Senior Staff Writer and Director of Business Development at The MMA Corner.

  • Fjhfh@gjjg.com

    Hey Michael Davis, Rampage Jackson never fought Fedor you moron. Don’t write an article if you can’t get your facts straight.

    • Michael Davis

      The article is about potential match ups, not past fights. Stay classy.

      • Christopher Flores

        Hahahahahaha, awesome.

  • Christopher Flores

    I’d love to see Fedor blast through Silva… That’d be all he has to do to justify a redemption fight against Werdum which would be a MASSIVE ticket for the UFC if for no other reason than to finally prove if Werdum is more than just the beneficiary of a long series of very (un?)fortunate events. Personally speaking, I don’t see a single win in Werdum’s entire resume that proves he belongs among elite fighters and the fact that he had so much steroids in his system that his face broke out in acne and his back was a connect-the-dots poster (watch the UFC weigh-ins against Velasquez or Browne) proves, to me, that he has no business being champion. It’s probably why he wants to take a vacation and force the rest of the division to keep fighting without him… which is a pain in the ass because the HW title has seen so little action these past few years.