With UFC on Fox having just happened, and JDS vs. Mir coming up, you might be wondering why I'm taking the time to write about a fighter with no fights on the (near) horizon, outside the Zuffa umbrella, who (for the first time, really) isn't really in the MMA news spotlight right now.
I have a very good reason: because this is my article, and I'll do whatever the heck I want! You're not my Dad! You can take my land, but you'll never take my blog content! ATTICA! ATTICA!
No, actually there is a good reason, one even having to do (a teensy bit) with UFC on Fox - but we'll get to that in a bit.
While perusing the MMA news headlines recently, I came across this gem from a little while ago. It's Dana White discussing those halcyon days way back in 2009, when he and the Fertitta's were trying to court Fedor Emelianenko to the UFC for the umpteenth time.
Anyone who was an MMA nerd back then remembers how insane the "Fedor is coming to the UFC" hype was. Sure, this was a news story that cropped up every few months or so (it still does, actually) but this time was special. The timing was perfect, the opportunity was there, and everything seemed set for the biggest signing in MMA history.
It never happened. Like something out of a Dr. Seuss story, White and company offered Fedor money. They offered M-1 exposure on their PPV broadcast. They offered him even more money. They offered to let him compete in Sambo tournaments. And did I mention they offered him a ton of money?
But still, Fedor would not eat those green eggs and ham, Sam I Am.
Now lots has been written about this failed business deal, by folks far more "in the know" than I. Still, reading over this news item, I couldn't help but feel a sense of melancholy. There's so much to regret in the failed UFC/Fedor deal, and the passage of time has only added to the unbelievable sense of missed opportunity for Fedor.
Why do I say that? There's a few reasons, but chief among them are:
Fedor would have beaten Brock Lesnar
I know I know, there's nothing worse than some blogger stating that fighter X would "definitely" beat fighter Y, especially in a past-tense, completely hypothetical scenario.
But follow my logic here. Circa 2009, the Brock/Fedor fight was viewed as extremely competitive, with maybe a slight edge to the more experienced Fedor. But in the nearly 3 years since that fight fell apart, we've learned two pretty inarguable facts about Mr. Brock Lesnar:
1) He doesn't like getting hit by guys who have big power...or even some power...or fists...or anyone, really.
2) His ground and pound really isn't all that fierce to anyone who isn't Frank Mir - and Frank has a strange habit of calmly letting his opponents punch him in the face sometimes.
Call me crazy, but a Lesnar/Fedor fight in 2009 would have gone pretty much like all Brock's fights have gone post-UFC 100: a minute or two of feeling out, followed by Fedor landing a big shot, and Brock disco-dancing, falling like a drunk, and basically looking like he wants to be anywhere but in the cage fighting.
And in case anyone thinks I'm being disrespectful to Brock, let me state emphatically: I would have EXACTLY the same reaction if Shane Carwin, Cain Velasquez, or Alistair Overeem so much as made eye contact with me, let alone actually hit me.
Still, that whole diverticulitis issue might have kept Brock from his big date with destiny, in which case
Fedor would have beaten Randy Couture
Randy Couture? What the hell is he doing here?
Well, some of you may remember that before Brock/Fedor was all the rage, the superfight of superfights was Fedor vs. Captain America himself.
So call me crazy, but if Fedor had come over to the UFC in late 2009, with Brock on the shelf - this would have been the UFC interim title fight instead of the (much later) Shane Carwin vs. Frank Mir. Remember that Randy was still a heavyweight at this time, and fought Big Nog in late 2009 in one of my personal all-time favourite fights.
In that fight, we saw the excellent wrestler Couture outmanuvered a couple times on the mat by the BJJ black belt Nogueira - who was himself outclassed on the ground by Emelianenko on multiple occasions.
Without his wrestling to fall back on, Randy would have been forced to strike with Fedor. And seeing as how Randy has been dropped by strikes in all of his recent fights that didn't feature Mark Coleman or James Toney - well, I think you see where I'm going here.
But if you're thinking that this Couture/Fedor scenario is complete hogwash, it doesn't matter because
Fedor would have beaten Frank Mir
Assuming they didn't bump Randy up for an interim title fight, you can bet your bottom dollar Fedor would have taken the mostly-unknown Shane Carwin's spot in the eventual UFC interim title fight.
And as I talked about before, Frank Mir has a strange propensity for being a calm Zen master while his opponent is teeing off on his face. Sure, his elite ground game means there's always the possibility of a Fabrico Werdum-type freak submission loss for Fedor - but somehow, I just don't see it (though I suppose I didn't "see it" with Werdum, either).
In fact, I think this fight would be a round or two of pretty good kickboxing from both men, before Fedor uncorks the same left-hand that dropped Brett Rogers - and sends Mir's perfectly coiffed head flying into Joe Silva's lap.
What's my point with all this hypothetical faffery? Only that Fedor would have had a somewhat easy path to a UFC title - and therefore, a somewhat easy path to the sort of high-profile market penetration he's been looking for in the U.S his whole career.
Eventually, he would have run into the Cain Velasquez's and Junior Dos Santos' of the division. And likely, he would have lost. But these men are kings of the division today, so that's nothing to sneeze at.
What Fedor would have gained in those brief couple of years is the legitimacy (stateside, at least) that comes with being a UFC champion. The saddest thing about Fedor's recent career trajectory is that the Dana White version of Fedor's career ("He's overrated! He fights handpicked opponents! He was never anything special! He was ducking serious competition in the UFC!") is becoming the official truth.
It doesn't matter what you or I think. It doesn't even matter what the truth is. Legions of casual fans will grow up in the sport on the "Fedor is overrated" theory, and 20 years from now no one will remember it ever being any other way.
And just to paint the biggest picture of sadness and regret possible: there's a chance, assuming the stars aligned the right way, that the first UFC on Fox could have featured Fedor, defending his heavyweight title against a Cain or JDS.
That one fight (and the promotion behind it) would have done more for Fedor's legacy in the sport than his decade of undefeated dominance ever could.
By Elton Hobson, who would like to remind you that every assumption he made in this article was purely hypothetical conjecture - so if you disagree, please attack him in the most vulgar, personal terms possible otherwise HE WON'T EVER LEARN!