This past Saturday, a mixed martial arts legend was thoroughly outclassed in the first round of the Strikeforce World Heavyweight Grand Prix. Of course, I'm talking about Fedor Emelianenko, and the beating he took at the hands of Antonio Silva. Going into the grand prix, Emelianenko was one of the favorites to win the tournament, and was certainly expected to handle his first round opponent, Antonio Silva. After an opening frame that saw Silva put up a far better fight than the world expected, a foolish hail mary overhand punch right out the gate in the second led to a well timed take down from Silva. This lone take down spelled disaster for Emelianenko. From half guard, Silva methodically pounded on him, and by the end of the round, had the former heavyweight king mounted, and bloodied from ferocious ground and pound. The fight was called off before the third round began, due to Emelianenko's eye being swollen shut.
Should Emelianenko have won the grand prix, he would have made a convincing case for being a top three heavyweight, and would surely be ranked as number one by some. Instead, the busted legend pondered retirement in his post-fight interview. In most cases, that would have been the end of it, but Fedor's notorious management, M-1 Global, along with Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker, assured fans and media that he would continue to fight. Meanwhile, Emelianenko went to the hospital with what was luckily an unbroken orbital bone.
One would expect that beating Emelianenko could do wonders for a fighter's career, but rather than the narrative being that Antonio Silva proved to be just as skilled as he is big, we were instead treated to talk of how overrated Fedor was, and how he thrived on poor competition. Had Silva won a back and forth affair with Fedor, he may have earned more respect simply by people not dismissing Fedor as they are now. It's sad how one can simply be "too good" for your stock to rise significantly in the eyes of fans.
The fall of Fedor Emelianenko is a sad tale, but even the greatest of fighters reach this point if they continue fighting to the age where their skills begin to slip. Emelianenko saying he was going to retire was comforting, I have no need to see a fighter as respected as he is drop multiple fights as he tries to regain what is lost. We had to see Chuck Liddell get knocked out by Rich Franklin before he finally hung up his gloves and called it a career. Just before Fedor fought in the main event of Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva , Andrei Arlovski suffered his third knock out in his last four straight losses...yeah, there's no need for Fedor to reach that point. Alas, his management and promoter insist he will fight again, and reportedly, he's going along with it. I don't believe that I'm alone when I say that I'm not eager to see him fight again, as great of a legend as he is. He cannot undo what was an illustrious career, but he can certainly end it with sad streak of losses, rather than leaving when he felt it was time for him to move on.
We've covered the sad, now take a look at the odd after the jump, with Emelianenko's coaches making outrageous accusations and excuses in regards to his recent loss.
As if a bad loss didn't do enough damage to Emelianenko's stock, his striking coach, Alexander Michkov, dropped this gem of a quote in an interview after the fight, in an interview with championat.ru:
- Does it concern you that Silva was 10 kg heavier in the day of the fight, how can you explain such a tremendous weight-gain?
- Of course it amazed us. Think about it, how can the normal human-being gain 10 kg in 24 hours? There is something fishy here. The truth is, all our fighters, I am talking about Russian fighters here, that are fighting under M-1, train on their natural abilities. Of course, they take vitamins, but that's it. At the same time, all the foreign fighters, I think about 99% of them, are taking chemicals. Obviously it was not a problem for Silva to make a weight. He weighted 264 pounds in the day of the weigh-ins, and the next day, he was already over 280, he gained 10 kg...Its very hard to fight with opponent like this.
- It was declared that during Grand-Prix, there will be a medical checking, that would find any attempts of taking illegal substances (steroids)?
- The situation is very unclear. For example, we hear rumors that two other quarterfinals may be fought in the state that is very liberal with the testing. Why? Because any kind of semi-deep testing will prevent Overeem from fighting. With an naked eye, you can see that he is gormandized with steroids. We asked organizers to use Olympic style testing, but they declined to do so. And that was the right decision, because otherwise, everyone will get busted but Fedor.
Seriously? What kind of steroid makes you gain that weight overnight? Weight cutting must be outlawed in Russia if Michkov is truly convinced that it took some sort of drug to gain that weight back over 24 hours. The amount that Silva put on after weigh ins is hardly unbelievable, he simply cut water weight, and put it back on while re-hydrating. It doesn't end there though, another coach of Emelianenko's, Vladimir Voronov, presents us with one of the most ridiculous excuses in the history of the sport via Fighters Only:
"We believe that forbidden psychological technology was used… It seems to us that not everything was right, and that certain technologies were used. Not ones that could be seen by the naked eye but psychological technologies that worked on both fighters at a distance," he said to Russian website LifeSports.ru That is why during the fight Fedor was just not like himself. It seemed very strange behaviour from Fedor. He stepped into the ring and did everything exactly the opposite of what we practiced before the fight. We were all shocked! Fedor had never previously done such a thing.
"Now nearly a week passes, everything settles, and we understand why all this happened."
Voronov also observed with suspicion the fact that Fedor seemed to look "a little depressed" while Silva "literally glowed from the overflowing of his energy". Voronov suspects the use of a person or persons in the audience capable of "blocking energy" and "transferring energy from one person to another".
That was my immediate response, and I'm still shook by the quote today. Evgeni Kogan, representing M-1 Global, claimed that this was meant to be a joke, but LifeSports.ru insists that the tone was quite serious, and that many Russians are just as baffled as we are. Thankfully, in all of this, Silva's manager didn't miss a beat, playfully admitting to the use of a witch doctor to give Silva the edge against Fedor, via mixedmartialarts.com:
"Jeez, I got caught. I will have to come out with the truth now. I hired a Macumbeiro (Brazilian witch doctor) and we killed a black chicken on the crossroads. After this, over a few beers, I showed the witch doctor Fedor’s fights, and he was worried that a chicken wouldn’t be enough, so we went out and killed a black goat just to make sure. Very potent stuff. Really messed Fedor’s brain waves up."
"We wanted to try that other military stuff Voronov is talking about, but it’s expensive technology and we were broke. The chicken and the goat came out way cheaper. Witch doctor is a friend; he did it for a few beers and an autograph."
I personally have felt that a move regarding his training camp would revitalize Emelianenko's career, getting pushed by fresh faces and high quality partners. These two quotes more than solidify that thought for me. Having two coaches on your team out there making statements like this is simply unacceptable. Not only has Fedor been handed a major loss, his own team is embarrassing him in the media. Fedor may not be very involved with his management or media relations, but if there's anything that could force his hand against his management and camp, the fallout after this loss to Silva may be it.
Photo via Dave Mandel, for Sherdog