I am stumped for an introduction. For those familiar with Fedor Emelianenko, no description is necessary. And yet, when trying to describe the man to a budding fan, no description of mine would suffice.
The cliches are true. Fedor is to mixed martial arts what Gretzky was to hockey, what Ruth was to baseball, and what Jordan was to basketball. He is the outlier, a statistical anomaly with no ready explanation. He will end his career as the greatest fighter to date, and there are few credible challengers to that title on the horizon.
His fight with Fabricio Werdum marks the 35th time he has engaged in a mixed martial arts contest. His career spans a decade. He nears his 34th birthday. Time is looming.
As celebrated as his career has become, as much attention is devoted to him, there have been very few quality looks at Emelianenko and his career. I have come across two such pieces, which I present to you here.
Finding Fedor - Sherdog
The idea of "nastoyashyi muzhik" is taking on the chin whatever life has to throw at you. It's about taking pride in being strong enough to survive and thanking your country, which makes you stronger. In Soviet times the effect was a sort of lifelong Stockholm syndrome with perhaps misplaced loyalty, but now challenges are seen as merely hurdles in the sprint for a bigger, brighter and more global future in which the runners themselves are the architects.
Fedor is the definitive "nastoyashyi muzhik."
A Russian Warrior in Mixed Martial Arts Who Doesn’t Battle for Acclaim - New York Times
His opponents typically possess a thick layer of macho flamboyance, dyed hair or tattoos complementing a hefty dose of hubris. With his receding hairline, doughy middle and subdued manner, Emelianenko fails to evoke an image of the Russian warrior. He strolls morosely up to the ring, introduced by a crooning Russian folk song about a Cossack fighter whose death is presaged by a dream.
Two expansive highlight videos after the jump.