Another Fedor fight, another build-up based around Fedor's place in the rankings. Strikeforce continues to be poor in the promotion department and it's left up to the media and fans to create the narrative of the fight. I haven't heard any Strikeforce reps building up Fabricio Werdum to establish him as a legitimate threat or even to talk about his credentials. That job seems to have been left up to men like Jonathan Snowden and Kid Nate. And yet again the mainstream media that so many claim are enchanted by Fedor Emelianenko is deathly quiet about Saturday night's contest.
While fans continue to struggle with the legitimate challenger status of a man who was knocked out cold by one of the UFC's rising stars and eeked out a narrow win over the good-not-great Antonio "Bigfoot" SIlva, Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin prepare for their titanic clash. I don't think with Fedor/Werdum that "the challenger" has a realistic shot to pull off a win. Carwin and Lesnar are meeting in a bout where it can not be said with any level of certainty what will happen. Right now I think that can be said of a bout between any two of Lesnar, Carwin, Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos.
Just the fact that the level of competition is so much higher in the UFC makes for a simple truth: Fedor Emelianenko's time as the best heavyweight in the world is almost at an end.
The only thing keeping Fedor on that pedestal right now is the fact that Lesnar, Carwin, Velasquez and dos Santos don't have the established resume yet, but one of them will within six months. Assuming the Lesnar/Carwin winner faces Cain Velasquez in 4-6 months, it would be an absurdity to think that the winner of that fight is not the world's current #1 heavyweight. The UFC "big four," representing 4 of the top 5 heavyweights in the world, are all going to continue to battle it out in the UFC shark tank while Fedor hangs out in the lazy river with marginal top ten fighters. At some point the competition a man faces has to matter in determining who the best in the world is at that moment. Once one of the UFC heavyweights has established himself and gotten the two big wins they need, it will be time to re-evaluate who is the heavyweight top dog.
This is not intended as a slight to Fedor, you're not going to find a bigger PRIDE fanboy than me. In my mind no one will even be in the discussion with him as the best heavyweight the sport has ever seen for years while the UFC's divisional hierarchy is established. He will still hold that crown based on his dominance in PRIDE when that was "the place" for top heavyweight competition. Watching Fedor fight was always special and I think it still is. Sadly, now it is only special because of the show he puts on rather than the men he does it against.
If we see another long layoff by the Russian following this fight, Saturday night will probably be the last time in MMA that we see a bout featuring a fighter considered the world's best taking place outside of a Zuffa promotion. Enjoy it and realize that you're watching history unfold over the course of seven days.