Saturday night saw Fedor Emelianenko lose to Dan Henderson by TKO, the first in his long and illustrious career. However, when you really think about it, the fight itself doesn't make sense in the grand scheme of North American MMA. The fight is a throwback to the PRDE days where Genki Sudo fought Butterbean and Giant Silva had a legitimate MMA career. In North America, a Middleweight fighter, albeit one who is fighting at Light Heavyweight, should never be in the same cage as one of the greatest Heavyweights of all time. Once you get past that it is a fun fight, divisionally speaking it really should never have happened.
Fedor took the fight with Henderson last night on the first two fight losing streak of his career. Many fans and media were questioning if he really was a good fighter to begin with or just someone who was the product of beneficial matchmaking. An honest look at his MMA record would reveal that like most stars of PRIDE FC, he did receive some questionable bookings. Even with fights against Zulu and Yuji Nagata, he was still considered the gold standard in Heavyweight MMA. Now here we are today, wondering if Fedor is willing to fight on. Losses to Fabricio Werdum and Antonio Silva can be excused and there have been many excuses. With Werdum we were told he only lost because Werdum is an ADCC Champion. Acceptable if you give it some thought. The Silva excuse is not. Fedor fans chalked the defeat up to Antonio being a massive Heavyweight as the reason the doctor stopped the fight.
The no win situation isn't because of the booking against a legitimate middleweight. The no win situation is because fight fans and more specifically Fedor fans, have placed Emelianenko on such a pedestal that they are willing to excuse poor showings by their hero. Because of this, detractors are able to write off a still competitive fighter. Fedor is one of the few fighters that divides the MMA community to such extremes. Either you see him as your hero or you gloat when he falls.
Fedor was placed in a no win situation because of his fans. The unfortunate fact is that the way they carry themselves in the online community has created a legion of those that love when the fighter fails. Had he beaten Dan Henderson last night, the excuses would have been that he beat up a natural middleweight, and that is a valid point. But don't write off the guy for losing if you were prepared to crucify the man had he won. The match should never have happened and it is a true shame to his legacy that it did. The folks at M-1 should take a step back and realize that sometimes the bottom line is the wrong one to take. Fedor's legacy took a big hit last night because everyone (fans, media, and management) decided that a fun fight was more important than a relevant fight. That is the biggest disappointment. Those that loved him best are the ones responsible that his legacy has been laid to rest.