Friday at Euro Fight Nights 50, a torch of sorts was passed. Two of Russia’s top heavyweights both picked up wins at the event, but they couldn’t have been more different. The event, held in St. Petersburg, Russia, was hosted on UFC Fight Pass, and though the legendary Fedor Emelianenko has yet to sign under the Zuffa banner, it was felt that EFN 50 would be his coming out party.

Turns out, it was anything but.

The event was a long, drawn out affair, heavy on production, and thankfully, action as well, given its run time of over six hours. Make no mistake – Euro Fight Nights went all out for this card, with live dancers, live music during fighter walkouts, and apparently, a small orchestra to serenade fighters on their way to the ring (oddly enough, the main event had less of this than many of the early bouts). Fedor’s name, it seems, still justifies such extravagence in Russia.

In the co-main event, Bellator’s former heavyweight champ, Vitaly Minakov, only recently stripped of his crown due to having been in exile over contract negotiations for two plus years, took on Bellator cast-off Peter Graham. The fact that Minakov failed to defend the title for twenty-four months certainly hasn’t hurt his development as a fighter, as he seems to be finding stiffer competition in Europe these days. He made quick work of Graham, taking him to the mat, searching for a kimura, then switching to an arm-bar to finish the job. The first round finish was a statement: this man, locked in contract limbo with Bellator (they did not release him when they stripped him of the title), needs to be in the UFC. He needs to be fighting the best.

Next up came The Last Emperor himself. Fedor Emelianenko was the man everyone wanted to see. His opponent, ex-UFC light heavyweight and noted boxer Fabio Maldonado, was expected to be little more then cannon fodder.

As Maldonado finally walked to the cage after a long day of fights, the list of his accolades was read by the announce team: heavy hands (of which there is no question), fighters faced – focusing mainly on his last few losses in the UFC. Fedor was then announced to much fanfare. His accolades read off like they were inked on an ancient parchment. Pride champion. Combat Sambo champion. Maldonado appeared nothing more than his seeming victim.

No one bothered to tell the Brazilian that. After an early barrage of punches by Fedor in the first thirty seconds of the fight, Maldonado in turn dropped him, mounted the Pride legend, and rained fire with his firsts. The ground and pound was brutal but effective. Fedor looked out. The fight could have — and should have — been stopped. The ref, no doubt wondering what would happen to his skin on his way out of the building following an Emelianenko loss, allowed the Russian to absorb life-shortening amounts of punishment. The crowd roared; the announcers openly called for a stop to the fight. Still it went on. Fedor worked back to his feet only to eat an uppercut and stagger drunkenly across the cage. Fabio would follow, corner his foe again, and work him up against the fence. Another opportunity to stop the fight was missed when the ref broke the action to retrieve Fedor’s mouth guard, saving him from a possible finish. When the bell sounded to end the round, most seemed shocked the Russian legend was still standing.

As much as it was a testament to Fedor’s heart, it was equally a testament to how time had passed him by. Throughout that first round, after his opening flurry that seemed to indicate an easy Emelianenko win, he fought sloppy, looked tired, had his hands low, and seemed reluctant to work for a takedown, which no doubt would have saved him much in the way of punishment. While he would add in leg kicks, knees, and even a head kick in the second and third rounds, and even an impressive flying knee attempt, gone was the Fedor of old.

It was clear by the end — a majority decision win for Fedor — that a torch had been passed. Minakov, at 31, is the future, or at least the present, of Russian MMA in the heavyweight division, at least when his contract with Bellator is sorted out, or he’s released and able to sign on with the UFC. Fedor? He’ll live on in our memories and in video archives from Pride and Affliction and the rest of the organizations he stalked, but the Fedor of today is faded, and it’s clear that any chance of greatness for The Last Emperor has long passed.

Full Results

Fedor Emelianenko def. Fabio Maldonado by majority decision (28-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Vitaly Minakov def. Peter Graham by submission (arm-bar), Round 1, 1:02
Kiril Sidelnikov def. Ruben Wolf by unanimous decision
Akhmat Aliev def. Matej Truhan by unanimous decision
Anatoly Tokov def. Vladimir Filipovic by unanimous decision
Sergey Pavlovich def. Chaban Ka by TKO (punches), Round 1, 1:54
Vadim Nemkov def. Mikolaj Rozanski by TKO (punches), Round 1, 3:39
Rasul Mirzaev def. Dioginis Souza by TKO (punches), Round 1, 4:13
Valentin Moldavsky def. Daniel Doerrer by submission (guillotine choke), Round 1, 0:47
Georgy Kichigin def. Vladimir Tyurin by submission (armbar), Round 1, 2:03
Abdulsupyan Alikhanov def. Arten Shokalo by unanimous decision
Jack McGann def. Abdula Dadaev by TKO (knee/punches), Round 1, 2:13
Aleksandr Dankov def. Dmitriy Maryukhim by TKO (puncheS), Round 1, 2:49
Vasiliy Zubkov def. Sergey Tovkan by submission (triangle choke), Round 1, 3:57
Marina Mokhnatkina def. Ekaterina Torbeeva by submission (armbar), Round 1, 0:25

About The Author

Senior Staff Writer

Covering the sport of MMA from Ontario, Canada, Jay Anderson has been writing for various publications covering sports, technology, and pop culture since 2001. Jay holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Guelph, and a Certificate in Leadership Skills from Humber College under the Ontario Management Development Program. When not slaving at the keyboard, he can be found in the company of his dog, a good book, or getting lost in the woods.

  • brian

    You are an idiot… You realize that in HW, even the softest “pillow handed”, comparably speaking, has enough ass to knock out any human alive if placed correctly. Fabio is TOUGH, make no mistake. His dirty boxing is some of the BEST in all of MMA. Had fedor chosen to make this a sambo fight instead of a standing war, he could have finished pretty easily given his pedigree on the ground.
    Stop being an idiot

    • brian

      Had he taken fabio down, subbed him easily you would be praising I assume and saying he should be in the UFC? How can an MMA writer be such a noob? Im assuming this is not your day job?