The end of an era officially arrived tonight in New Jersey. Fedor Emelianenko dominated the sport's landscape from 2001-2006, but age, lack of size and an ever-evolving heavyweight field has caught up to him.
Fedor couldn't overcome the massive Antonio "Big Foot" Silva and lost via TKO on a doctor's stoppage at the end of two rounds. Silva had Fedor mounted for most of the second round. His repeated blows closed Fedor's right eye. The ringside doctor and referee Dan Miragliotta stopped the fight before the third began.
The melancholy crowd in New Jersey's Izod Center was further shocked when a sullen Fedor (31-3) talked about walking away from the sport.
"Yes, maybe it's the last time. Maybe it's high time," Fedor said through his translator. "Thanks god for everything.I spent a great, beautiful, long, sport life. Maybe it's God's will."
Emelianenko, was arguably the world's No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter from 2001-2008. He had a 10-year unbeaten streak, that lasted from 2001-2009, snapped last year by Fabricio Werdum. That loss was chalked up by many as a fluke. Fedor got caught in a pretty elementary armbar.
This was the first fight back in the cage for the Russian since that loss in June of 2009. He had prolonged negotiations about a contract entension and his inclusion in the Strikeforce heavyweight Grand Prix. Fedor was placed on the same side of the bracket as Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem. It was an odd alignment since those two fighters were thought to be the No. 1 and 2 seeds. Now we see why. Anything can happen in MMA.
Silva (16-2) is a respected heavyweight, but was still very underestimated entering the fight. You can't discount how huge the Brazilian is at 6-foot-4, 264 pounds. Showtime announcer Mauro Ranallo claimed Silva was 285 at fight time. That's a 55-pound weight advantage over Fedor, who's a smallish heavyweight at 230.
Silva and Fedor put on a great show. They slugged it out in the first. Two of the three judges gave the round to Emelianenko, but the Russian came out for the second with little strategy in mind.
Just three seconds in, he hurled a big right hand at Silva, who ducked and scored an easy double-leg takedown. The 55-pound weight gap may not kill you standing, but it's brutal on the ground. Silva, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, is also skilled with his positioning. A minute later, Silva passed Fedor's half guard to side control and then mounted the Russian thirty seconds after that.
Fedor rotated between his back and his stomach four different times. On his back, he was pummeled by Silva's humongous fists. On his stomach, his risked getting caught in a rear-naked choke. That was a lot of work over two minutes. Once Fedor settled on his back again, Silva worked and then latched on an arm-triangle choke. Fedor's head turned purple but he survived and Silva got tired. Fedor finally got out of the mount when Silva attempted a knee bar. The round ended with Fedor trying his own heel hook. Silva knew what he was doing, smiled and waved his finger at Fedor. When the Russian rose to his feet, it was clear that right eye was nearly swollen shut. It had the look of broken orbital bone or maybe he'd take a thumb to the eye.
When the fighters hit their stools, Miragliotta walked to Fedor's corner and quickly called a halt to the fight. Confusion reigned for 30 seconds before Silva's corner was finally informed of the win.
Fedor has his chances in the first round. He stalked the big Brazilian trying to land a right-changing right hand, but he didn't set up the punches with a jab. Emelianenko actually got top control on the ground when Silva fell out of a standing guillotine attempt. In the past, Fedor on top, meant doom for most fighters. In 2011, the top-level big heavyweights are pretty solid off their backs. Fedor had trouble landing anything significant and tried for a kimura, but Silva wisely rolled out of it.
Emelianenko took heavy damage. Silva landed 51-of-81 shots on the ground and 72-of-128 overall. Fedor landed 36-of-53.
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