Going into the opening round of Strikeforce's Heavyweight Grand Prix, that's the big question.
STEVE COFIELD: "I think the other storyline with Fedor is that air of invincibility. I really do believe that and, you know this, from Tyson and great fighters throughout history that Fedor, for a long time, could walk into the ring and have guys beaten almost before the bell sounded. I think that happened with Cro Cop. Cro Cop was DOMINANT but he was afraid in that fight. I think Mark Coleman, to a certain extent. Different guys. I don't know that that exists any more. What do you think?"
KEVIN IOLE: "I think you're right, Steve, I mean I think saw it start to melt away with Brett Rogers because I think in the Brett Rogers fight, you know here's a guy who worked at Sam's Club just a few months before, wasn't a particularly accomplished guy in terms of win or anything fighting Fedor and, you know, he did some damage and he had some success in different areas and all of a sudden I think, you know, it's like, wow, he went for broke and he got, I don't want to say got lucky, but he had success and I think other people saw that and said, hmmmm and Werdum I think realized, hey, I can win this fight. I'm not saying that he was brimming with confidence or overflowing feeling like it was a slam dunk but certainly I think Werdum knew going into that fight, hey, I have a chance, you know, I have some skills in this fight, Fedor's human, Brett Rogers proved it and Werdum took advantage of, you know, a couple of really bad mistakes by Fedor and beat him. So, I think that just like happened to Mike Tyson in boxing, that was a great analogy. Once Evander Holyfield beat him, Buster Douglas did it a little bit but Tyson regained that, but once Evander Holyfield beat him it was over for Mike Tyson. He was never the same guy again and I don't think that's the case with Fedor because I think he's still closer to his prime than Mike was and Mike didn't maybe take care of his body the same way that Fedor does, but I certainly think it helps the opponents because now they believe that, hey, they can go in there and they can compete and he's not some cyborg and that, you know, that they have a chance to beat him and then he may make a mistake."
Luke Thomas responds at SBNation:
There's no denying his reputation has taken a hit. It has. But I've always maintained the weight disadvantage - and probably Fedor's jejune attitude heading into the bout - affected how the fight against Brett Rogers is perceived. The loss to Fabricio Werdum doesn't help, of course, but Fedor's image is elastic. With as much capital as he built up, even with M-1 spending a ton of it, the idea that Fedor's invincibility has been diminished is only true as a snapshot of the moment. With a dominating performance over Antonio Silva, "The Last Emperor" can easily reclaim lost glory that, frankly, many fans are waiting to heap on him for even the flimsiest of reasons.
If Fedor has lost a little luster, he's got a great opportunity to shine on Saturday.
Personally I think there is a disconnect between long-time followers of Fedor who remember him surviving scares against Kazuyuki Fujita, Mark Hunt, and Kevin Randleman and newer fans who expected him to win every fight without taking a shot. Of course the loss to Fabricio Werdum is a much bigger blow to the aura than anything else. That simply proved the Last Emperor is mortal. On Saturday we'll find out if he's no longer a force in the division.