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2010 Bloody Elbow Reader Awards: Upset of the Year

Photo by Dave Mandel for <a href="">Sherdog</a>
Photo by Dave Mandel for Sherdog

Fabricio Werdum Submits Fedor Emelianenko

As a 5-1 underdog, Fabricio Werdum wasn't the biggest mathematical underdog to win in 2010. That recognition would go to either Frankie Edgar for his first fight with B.J. Penn in April or Chad Griggs making Bobby Lashley quit in August.

Lashley and Penn, however, didn't wear the same cloak of mystique that Fedor donned for the past decade. Lashley, a former professional wrestler who made the transition to MMA in 2008, was competing in only his sixth professional bout after compiling a perfect 5-0 record over MMA luminaries like Wes Sims, Bob Sapp, and Jason Guida. B.J. Penn, while a legend in the world of MMA, carried five losses on his ledger, and garnered a reputation as a fighter who struggled with proper motivation and training.

Fedor Emelianenko lost only one time after making his MMA debut in May of 2000. Competing in his fifth professional bout as part of the Rings "King of Kings" tournament, Emelianenko suffered an infamous cut due to an illegal elbow from opponent Tsuyoshi Kohsaka. The rules of the tournament, however, stated that a winner must emerge from each bout, and with Emelianenko unable to continue, officials awarded Kohsaka with the victory.

Over the 9 years, 2 months, and 20 days between the Kohsaka fight and when he met Werdum, Emelianenko had his hand raised 28 times without defeat. In August of 2001, he defeated future UFC and Strikeforce veteran Renato Sobral. In June of 2002, he dominated Semmy Schilt - who would later become the most decorated champion in K-1 history - in his Pride debut. After stopping Heath Herring in November of the same year, he was crowned as the second Pride heavyweight champion by upsetting Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in March of 2003.

In April of 2004, Emelianenko submitted Mark Coleman in two minutes (and would submit him again in October of 2006) before repeating his performance against Nogueira in December of 2004. In August of 2005, he turned the tables on Mirko Filipovic, outstriking him for twenty minutes en route to a decision victory.

Overmatched opposition plagued Emelianenko's career between the end of 2005 and the summer of 2008 as he fought giants (Wagner "Zuluzinho" Martins and Hong-Man Choi), washed up former greats (Coleman), and natural middleweights (Matt Lindland). That all changed when Emelianenko finished Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski, both former UFC champions, in a grand total of three minutes and fifty seconds.

While no one expected Werdum to end Fedor's reign, everyone recognized the danger he presented. As a two-time winner of both the Abu Dhami Submission Wrestling Championships and the Mundials jiu-jitsu tournament at black belt, Werdum is arguably the best Brazilian jiu-jitsu player fighting heavyweight MMA. While many people pointed to Emelianenko's handling of Nogueira in Pride, it's fair to say in retrospect that Werdum is a much more accomplished grappler than Nogueira, be it the 2005 or 2010 versions.

The Bloody Elbow staff unanimously predicted Emelianenko as the victor, though one astute writer expressed an otherworldly premonition:

There's no reason to pick against the Russian here, though I expect Werdum will do some things that will get people talking about Fedor being "exposed". I've got this weird upset chill running up my spine, but I'm using my head and going Fedor Emelianenko by decision.

For thirty seconds, the fight played out as expected. Fedor unloaded with a cavalcade of wild punches. Werdum appeared to have been knocked down, but a careful watch of the replay indicates that he simply lost his footing. When Emelianenko engages on the floor, Werdum immediately looks for an armbar. Fedor defends the submission attempt well and briefly finds himself in side control. Werdum rolls back into the guard, slipping his left foot over Emelianenko's right shoulder in the process. Werdum locked his right knee over his left foot, completing the triangle. Emelianenko valiantly held on for nearly 30 seconds, but was forced to tap as Werdum latched on to an arm to complement the choke.

Neither man fought again in 2010. Werdum had surgery on his elbow following the fight, while Emelianenko's handlers found a way to leverage their client and enter renegotiations with the Strikeforce/Showtime team. After rumors of a rematch - a fight that both Werdum and Emelianenko requested, Strikeforce ended up placing the two in a high-profile tournament featuring the bulk of their heavyweight division. The rematch may come to fruition in the semi-finals if Emelianenko and Werdum beat their respective opponents in Antonio Silva and Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem.

Full results after the jump.


Upset of the Year Voting
Upset Points %
Werdum vs. Fedor 47.2
Edgar vs. Penn I 27.3
Russow vs. Duffee 5.5
Edgar vs. Penn II 4.8
Shields vs. Henderson 4.4
Velasquez vs. Lesnar 3.0
Cavalcante vs. Lawal 1.4
Leben vs. Akiyama 1.1
Curran vs. Huerta 0.9
Gomi vs. Griffin 0.7
Danzig vs. Stevenson 0.5
Gamburyan vs. Brown 0.5
Pyle vs. Hathaway 0.2
Narantungalag vs. Gono 0.2
Kanehara vs. Yamamoto 0.2
Prangley vs. Jardine 0.2
Velasquez vs. Nogueira 0.2
Warren vs. Soto 0.2
Lawal vs. Mousasi 0.2
Griggs vs. Lashley 0.2
Downes vs. Zhang 0.2
Frausto vs. Fujii 0.2
Jackson vs. Machida 0.2
Pettis vs. Henderson 0.2

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