Fedor Emelianenko is like the health care bill.
You have a side of devoted support and a side of blind hate...and both sides will exaggerate or lie a little to make their point.
Fedor is one of the most talked about fighters in the world of mixed martial arts, and rightfully so. He is known for his practically perfect record, his heavy hands, and his agile arm bars from the bottom.
It is hard to bring up Fedor's name without a raging debate over his career and his future plans taking place.
However, what I want to do is take a realistic, objective look at Fedor's career. So I ask you to set aside your current feelings for Fedor and do the same.
Lets take a look at some of the biggest Fedor debates and try to settle the issues.
Debate One - Undefeated Record
Many consider Fedor undefeated because of the controversial ending of his one loss. Emelianenko was competing in a tournament in Japan and was facing off against Tsuyoshi Kohsaka. Very early in the fight Kohsaka threw what was deemed an illegal, but accidental, elbow that opened an old wound on Fedor.
The doctors were forced to stop the fight and Kohsaka was awarded the win and moved on in the tournament.
Due to the fact that it was a tournament and someone had to advance, the fight stood has a loss for Fedor. Many of Fedor's fans dismiss this loss and call him undefeated.
I agree that this loss is controversial, and if it had taken place elsewhere it may have been changed to a no contest. However, as I will approach this case the same way I have approached other controversial decisions, such as Machida vs. Rua, Couture vs. Vera, or even Arona vs. Fedor.
A win is a win and a loss is a loss.
This match and what happened has been clearly documented and is known my most MMA fans. Fedor still has yet to be stopped or finished by any opponent, which is almost as impressive as being undefeated. However, it does need to be recognized.
Debate 2 - Fedor Hasn't Fought Anyone Good
I've often heard this argument from those who are trying to diminish Fedor's accomplishment. This argument is very weak.
Fedor has defeated two of the top heavyweights of all time in Antonio Minotaruo Nogueria (twice) and Mirko Cro Cop. He beat both of them in their prime, a feat that very few, if any can claim.
Many scoff at Emelianenko's record because of what some have called "freak show" fights. These include Hong-Man Choi (7'2'', 320 lbs) and Zuluzinho (6'7'', 407 lbs).
I agree that both of those fighters are not elite by any means. They don't have much backing in their MMA records, and don't have much of a reputation from any other combat competition such as K-1.
However, both these men dwarf Fedor. Fedor (6'0'', 233 lbs) is by no means a large man. He is actually a fairly small heavyweight.
His ability to handle the incredible size difference is impressive. Many fighters his size may have struggled if taken down by one of these men. However, in the case of the Hong-Man Choi fight, Fedor won the match off his back.
Fedor also holds wins over Richardo Arona, Renato Sobral, Semmy Schilt, Heath Herring, Mark Coleman (twice), Kevin Randlemen, and Mark Hunt. A respectable list of former champions, K-1 strikers, and talented wrestlers. All of these men's size ranging from much bigger than Fedor to fairly smaller than Fedor.
The most recent criticism comes from his past three victories.
Tim Sylvia was dominated by Fedor and finished quickly. Some claimed that Sylvia was washed up, while others recognized Sylvia as a former UFC Champion.
Those who say Sylvia was washed up claim he was 1-2 in his last three fights before fighting Fedor. Well, those two losses were to Randy Couture and Minotauro Nogueira. Certainly respectable talent in my book.
Andre Arlovski was also deemed as "washed up" after his loss to Fedor. However, he was 15-5 in his career coming into the Fedor fight, and four of those five losses were against either former UFC Heavyweight champions or former UFC No. 1 contenders. He certainly hadn't been fighting any cans up until that point.
Finally, Brett Rogers. I have the easiest time understanding why people may not approve of Rogers as "top" competition. He came in 10-0 with his last victory being a win over Andre Arlovski. However, 10-0 is 10-0, and I don't think we will be able to fairly judge Rogers as a fighter until we see him fight more.
Overall, this is the debate that angers me the most. I understand not supporting a fighter, but diminishing a man's fighting record when there is no one else in MMA that has one comparable is a low move.
Debate Three - Fedor Needs to Fight More Top Competition/in the UFC
The dream of many mixed martial arts fans has been to see Fedor Emelianenko make his way to the UFC.
However, due to issues between his management and the UFC, this has yet to happen.
I am very torn on this issue. I believe that the UFC has done just about everything they could, besides agreeing to co-promotion with M-1 Global, to bring Fedor to the UFC.
I also don't blame Fedor for not being a fan of Dana White or his style of business.
In this matter, I believe, as fans, we just have to accept that this is part of the business side rather than the sport side. M-1 Global knows how much Fedor is worth, and if they are not getting the price they want they will sit pat with smaller promotions.
As a fan of Fedor, I want to see him fight in the UFC like everyone else. I want to see how he handles fighters like Frank Mir, Cain Velasquez, and, of course, Brock Lesnar.
I agree with those who don't support Fedor that there have been opportunities for him to face this top competition and for reasons that none of us really know, he has declined.
What I don't agree with are those who call Fedor "scared" or claim that he is "ducking" anyone. To claim that any fighter, regardless of record, is scared to fight someone is disrespectful and low.
Fedor, in the past, has offered to fight Randy Couture, Brock Lesnar, or any heavyweight from the UFC. It has also never been documented that Fedor himself declined a fight, or said he wouldn't fight someone.
Again, this is the business side of MMA getting involved. Dana White would never let one of his fighters go elsewhere to fight Fedor, even for just one fight. To Dana, thats a waste of profits.
The answer to this debate is very complicated. Yes, we all want to see Fedor Emelianenko fight top ranked fighters from the UFC. However, to question Fedor's manhood as a fighter or to make claims that have no backing is unnecessary and out of line.
Fedor Emelianenko is one of the most polarizing figures in MMA. He has the great ability to make fans cheer and jump to their feat. He has also seemed to develop the ability to make fan's blood boil.
I am a fan of Fedor. I support him as a fighter, and believe that he is the greatest heavyweight of all time, and the greatest fighter of all time.
Yet I agree with those who say he should fight better competition, and that the criticism of Fedor's recent actions is justified. He belongs in the UFC in the octagon.
I believe that mixed martial arts fans need to find the balance with Fedor. Blindly bashing anything Fedor does or his accomplishments is unnecessary. Disregarding any criticism and refusing to believe Fedor can do wrong is also unnecessary and foolish.
It is possible to look at Fedor objectively. It is possible to appreciate a man's accomplishments and yet criticize is recent career moves.
I've seen so much energy put into this never ending debate. It is time we refocus that energy on hoping that one of the greatest fighters of all time's story can be finished with a final chapter that it deserves.