Too many people are discussing Fedor Emelianenko's loss last night as if he was a shell of his former legend, and calling for the former Pride FC champion to retire. At 34, should "The Last Emperor" call it quits after his second round TKO loss to Antonio Silva in the quarterfinals of the first Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix? Fedor got dominated on the mat in the second round of his loss after fighting a closely contested first round that saw both participants deliver hard shots to test the other's chin. Emelianenko even had Bigfoot on his back multiple times in the first, lacking fear while diving into the Brazilian's half guard.
Fedor may have lost last night, but without the egregious error of letting the much larger Silva obtain mount, or the questionable stoppage due to Fedor's eye, the bout was far from a complete domination. Fedor did not look discernably slower or less aggressive than I've seen in the past, and he ate a large amount of power strikes directly to the chin, never wavering in his composure. Ultimately, this is why I believe he should not retire- yes, he's the victim of two stoppage losses, but neither were earth shattering, lights-out knockouts like we've seen of fading legends in the past. Chuck Liddell and Andrei Arlovski are perfect examples of fighters that career's beg the question of retirement, not because of showing signs of skill deterioration, but rather signs of a chin weakened over by multiple concussive blows. Fedor has taken some big shots in his career, but we've never seen him "stanky leg" or prone on the canvas, body rigid and/or convulsing like some aged veterans.
Yes, Fedor's prime certainly seems in the past. But could that be a lack of motivation on his part moreso than a deterioration in skills or lack of size? I feel that MMA has some of the most fickle fans and media, quick to abandon bandwagons and write off promising or proven athletes after losses. I, for one, can not believe that people could believe the allure of a potential fight between the legend and former champion versus the legend-in-the-making and current tri-champion has lost any of it's luster. Overeem still has not fought the top 10 caliber level of competition in his heavyweight career, and thus is not proven in my eyes. Does he have all the tools and skills to be #1 in the world? If we were grading off of potential, the Dutch superstar would certainly earn the top spot. He is almost certainly the first seed in the current Grand Prix, however he still needs a continuous supply of fights against top fighters to achieve his own status in the annals of MMA history. He would start with a win against Werdum, but only one fight against a top fighter wouldn't merit #1 status. A potential win against Bigfoot Silva would come with deserved clout, but I think that we can't disregard these potential matchups between the biggest and baddest fighters on our planet because of a few losses. These top flight athletes should be given more credit and more room for error by us keyboard enthusiasts. Because, if time has proven anything, a man's legacy isn't determined only by his wins, but also by his response to losses and hardship.