Who‚Äôs the most powerful fighter in mixed martial arts: Fighters.com Heavyweight Champion ‚ÄúLast Emperor‚ÄĚ Fedor Emelianenko (31-1) or second-ranked heavyweight and UFC champion Brock Lesnar (4-1)? According to Business Week, in a head-to-head battle of earning potential, Emelianenko tops Lesnar.
Business Week ranked Emelianenko the 82nd most powerful athlete in the world in their annual Power 100 rankings and Lesnar came in at 96.
Most would assume Lesnar would rank higher than Emelianenko. Lesnar has been a bankable star since debuting in the WWE in 2002. His title fight versus third-ranked Frank Mir (13-4) at UFC 100 in Las Vegas last July attracted the largest number of pay per view buys in UFC history.
Neither fighter‚Äôs total earnings is known, but Lesnar is sponsored by Wildlife, Jack Links, and Dymatize Nutrition while Emelianenko has no key sponsors.
However, fight performace was taken into account by Business Week to project future earnings. Lesnar lost his UFC debut to Mir at UFC 81 in Las Vegas in 2008 and, at the time the rankings were being created, Lesnar future in MMA was questionable after a bout with diverticulitis.
Emelianenko is certainly a better bet to continue winning, but, if Lesnar had been healthy while Business Week projected his earning ability, would he have outranked Emelianenko? Now that Lesnar has announced he‚Äôs healthy and will return, should he outrank Emelianenko?
Remember, the Power 100 is a ranking of ability to earn money, not whose a better fighter. While North America isn‚Äôt the only large MMA market in the world, Emelianenko‚Äôs inability to speak English severely limits his ability to attract sponsors in this very large market. While already the biggest name in American MMA, Lesnar has a higher ceiling of marketability worldwide than Emelianenko‚Äôs ceiling in North America due to language and, let‚Äôs be honest, his aloof demeanor.
Emelianenko‚Äôs advantage is his earning power not being entirely determined by Strikeforce‚Äôs success, while Lesnar will likely go the way the UFC goes.
However, there‚Äôs every likelihood the UFC will continue to grow both in North America and worldwide, so doesn‚Äôt it seem like Lesnar has higher earning power than Emelianenko?