Is Fedor Emelianenko one of the all time greats of MMA? To hear the man himself tell it, the answer is ‘no.’ He recently admitted as much, saying, “I never considered myself to the best [fighter],” in regards to his accomplishments. And it seems ‘The Last Emperor’ may have some company when it comes to downplaying his career.
Top ranked UFC heavyweight Alistair Overeem’s time in MMA has run alongside Fedor’s for years. Both men started out in Rings, both men first made it to Pride FC in 2002, both men ended up making the jump over to Strikeforce after Pride folded (although Overeem did so several years ahead of Fedor).
After that, however, Fedor and Overeem have been on dramatically different paths. Overeem went from Strikeforce to the UFC. He had a rocky start with the promotion, but eventually fought his way to a heavyweight title shot in 2016. Fedor took a few fights after his disastrous Strikeforce run ended, then toyed with retirement. He came back in late 2015, with a pair of wins (one extremely controversial), only to end up getting KO’d by Matt Mitrione earlier this month at Bellator NYC.
That last loss has been a bit of a coffin nail for some fans when it comes to Fedor’s legacy. But, it seems Overeem doesn’t feel like Fedor even had that much of one to start with. He discussed Fedor’s loss to Mitrione in a recent interview with FightHub TV (transcript via MMA Fighting):
“What can you say about it?” Overeem said when asked about Fedor’s legacy. “I think Fedor had a great run in 2002-2005 and after that — people talk about 10 years undefeated and blah, blah, blah, but after 2005, who did he fight? He fought cans. He declined to fight me on two occasions, in 2009 and 2010.
“The other thing is that he never tested himself in the UFC. That’s something that bothers me. He should have done that. He should have went to the UFC and went to that mix. There’s always gonna be that little thing over his career.”
“He’s not the greatest heavyweight because he declined to fight me on two occasions while I was the Strikeforce heavyweight champion,” Overeem said. “You want to fight for the belt, right? I wanted to fight him, he’s a name. And secondly, because he didn’t go to the UFC.”
Overeem is set to fight Fabricio Werdum this Saturday, July 8th on the PPV portion of UFC 213. This fight marks the rubber match between the two men, who met originally in Pride, and again in Strikeforce. The card is expected to be headlined by a women’s bantamweight title fight between Amanda Nunes and Valentina Shevchenko.