After Antonio Silva, Looking Back at Fedor Emelianenko's Greatest Hits

Photo by Ed Mulholland for ESPN.com

Antonio Silva snuffed out the legend of Fedor Emelianenko in the first round of Strikeforce's Heavyweight Grand Prix but let's not forget he fought and won some of the most epic bouts in MMA History. His reign as Pride champion is one of the most storied in MMA history. Fedor took on all comers and beat them all for over a decade.

Here are some of the biggest fights in Fedor's career from Bloody Elbow and USA TODAY's 50 Greatest Fights in MMA History series:

Fedor Emelianenko def. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, March 16, 2003 - Pride 25
Its not often that the greatest heavyweight on Earth, a man whom I still consider the #2 all-time heavyweight in MMA history, passes the torch. How fitting then, that Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira met his match in the #1 all-time heavyweight in Fedor Emelianenko. Of course at the time, Fedor wasn't really Fedor yet and few expected him to utterly dominate the great Nogueira and on the ground no less. Fedor was content to remain in Big Nog's guard, firing some of the most devastating ground and pound ever seen in MMA. He shrugged off Nogueira's feared submissions from the guard like nothing and just continued to inflict the beating. Six years later, PRIDE is a distant memory, but Fedor Emelianenko is still the undisputed #1 heavyweight in MMA.    


Fedor Emelianenko def. Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, Aug. 28, 2005 - PRIDE Final Conflict 2005
MMA, or any combat sport for that matter, rarely sees a bout between the clear-cut, no-doubt-about-it, undisputed heavyweight champion of the world and the clear-cut, no-doubt-about-it, most dangerous challenger to his throne. Sure Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was still out there and had beaten Cro Cop in 2003, but Fedor beat him soundly in their third and final match. Cro Cop's on the other hand was the challenge Fedor hadn't answered. Before the fight it was assumed that Fedor would have to take the fight to the ground to beat the fearsome K-1 kickboxer. But just as he had awed the MMA world by going into Big Nog's dangerous guard to score his first win against Nogueira, he shocked everyone, especially Cro Cop by taking the fight to Mirko on the feet. Cro Cop got his licks in, but at the end of the night there was no doubt as to who was the better man. There was also no doubt about what the top MMA promotion in the world was as PRIDE's 205lb Grand Prix saw Mauricio "Shogun" Rua emerge as the new light heavyweight sensation in a crowded field.    

Fedor Emelianenko def. Mark Coleman, Oct. 21, 2006 - PRIDE 32
This fight, unlike the initial Coleman vs Emelianenko match in 2004, is really of little significance in and of itself. What makes it matter is that it was the headlining fight on PRIDE's first ever live card in the USA. It was a bit of a desperation move as the promotion was beginning to struggle under the glare of intense media scrutiny of alleged organized crime ties in Japan (see hereherehere, and here). Much as the original UFC tried putting on shows in Brazil and Japan when the hounds of regulation were on their heels in the states, PRIDE was looking for fresh territories to conquer and although the PPV was an unmitigated flop (75,000 orders), the live gate broke $2 million, outperforming contemporary UFCs. The live success of this card directly set the stage for Affliction's efforts to promote Fedor Emelianenko in the states.    

Fedor Emelianenko def. Tim Sylvia, July 19, 2008 -- Affliction: Banned
The promotional debut of t-shirt company Affliction, saw Fedor Emelianenko fight in America for only the second time before a crowd of almost 14,000 and for a PPV audience claimed to be as high as 100,000. Since the collapse of PRIDE, Fedor had fought for Bodog and DREAM against less than worthy competition (nothing against Matt Lindland, but he's a middleweight). His bout with Sylvia would be his first fight against top 10 competition in years. Fedor answered any questions definitively by blizting Sylvia with a barrage of punches and getting a rear naked choke on the downed Maine-iac in 0:36. Fedor continues to fight under the Affliction banner, having disposed of another former UFC champ in Andrei Arlvoski as well.

Strikeforce_fedor_vs_silva_button_medium 

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