Fedor Emelianenko, a man who has perpetually weighed in at around 230 pounds with a podgy exterior, especially of late, that doesn’t hide the fact that the man’s working weight is much lower, finally bowed out of the Heavyweight world. Was it because father time caught up to him? Perhaps. Was it because his ground game couldn’t match up with a BJJ black belt? Highly doubtful. Was it because 230 pounds is simply too small to fight against the modern mammoths of heavyweight MMA who cut 15-25 pounds to make 265? Definitely.
When skill is close to equal in the grappling aspect of MMA size and conditioning are everything, and that is what we bared to witness on Saturday night as Antonio Silva smothered, squashed and smashed Fedor out of MMA. Anyone who has ever rolled in their life knows, as I do, how huge a weight difference like 55 pounds is, even a difference of 15-20 is felt massively and especially when you’re on the bottom.
This shone through brighter than ever as Fedor was mounted for nearing four minutes by a man who whose weight instantly squashed any attempt at escape. It is testament to the heart and mental fortitude of Fedor that he was able to last the round and even mount offense as it ended. But the damage was done and he was unable to re-enter the fray. Which is a shame as it is my belief that Silva was ‘punched out’ and that he would have been at the mercy of Fedor’s looping and booming overhand right, but it was alas’ not to be.
It has been referenced over and over again that Fedor has fought ‘big guys’ before and conquered them but when have any of them been even close the Fedor’s grappling ability? Semmy Schilt? No. Tim Slyvia? No. Hong Man Choi? No Comment. Could Fedor have done something differently? Sure. He could have scooted into the cage when he was on his side in half guard and attempted to wall walk to his feet and maybe then he could have surmounted the goliath challenge in front of him. But that says if, but and maybe which ignores the fact that in the new age of MMA where everyone is a BJJ black belt with high level striking 230 pounds is simply too small to fight at Heavyweight. Especially when the 230 pounds is fedor, who could easily make 205 and perhaps even 185. Am I saying he should drop down and carry on? No. I am saying that Fedor’s chapter is over, his swan song sung and he now must go into the good night.
What does this mean for MMA though? More extreme weight cuts? A Cruiserweight division of 205-235? What I’d like to see personally is a departure of the unhealthy weight cut culture and a weigh-in on the day system. Something I believe is not only healthier for the fighters but would lead to more exciting fights as well as limit the size difference between heavyweights.
One thing though needs no question mark, never again will we see a man the size of Fedor Emelianenko sit atop the most coveted throne in MMA. The last emperor has fallen and whoever in the coming years emerges from all the sweat and blood as the ‘new Fedor’ will be too big for his throne.