Consensus number one heavyweight and oft-debated pound for pound great Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko received what many believe to be his first true loss on June 26th against UFC castoff Fabricio “Vai Cavallo” Werdum. The entire mixed martial arts community was in shock as the fight was supposed to be one that Emelianenko won handily on his way to a title shot against Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem. Instead, “The Last Emperor” succumbed to an expertly applied triangle choke in only the first round of their meeting; and Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker told Heavy.com that he saw it coming.
“A month before the fight, I went on record in a meeting and said, ‘You know what? [Fabricio’s] gonna win the fight,'” said Coker. “I just had this feeling. They said, ‘Why?’ and I said, ‘Because, when it goes to the ground there’s no one better than Fabricio Werdum at what he does.’ He’s probably the best heavyweight Jiu-jitsu fighter in the world and sure enough, when it went down–I think Fedor got over-anxious, got caught and probably felt he could get out at some point but [Werdum] is just a master at what he does, it was very artful what Fabricio did.”
Placing Fedor at the top of heavyweight rankings lists (and often pound for pound rankings lists) was merely a formality for most; the Russian heavyweight was so dominant for so long that most had grown comfortable with the fact that he was unbeatable. Even Coker, who apparently foresaw “The Last Emperor’s” downfall, was astonished when he saw it actually taking place.
“I couldn’t believe it, I was there watching–Fedor was about to tap and I was like, ‘Holy crap!'” Coker admitted. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is an historical moment in mixed martial arts.’ I mean, Fedor’s Fedor, right?”
Fedor is indeed Fedor and because of his star-power (and perhaps because it his last fight under his Strikeforce contract) Coker has been pushing an Emelianenko-Overeem match despite the fact that Emelianenko recently lost. The fact that Werdum is undergoing surgery and will likely be out of action for at least the immediate future lends this fight a bit of legitimacy, but it is hard to argue Emelianenko’s case for deserving a title shot. The fact that Strikeforce granted Brett Rogers (fresh off of a loss to Emelianenko) a title shot against Overeem while Emelianenko was out of action due to contract re-negotiations does little to give credit to the organization. Coker has mentioned that Emelianenko could face Overeem in a non-title bout but that seems to make even less sense and adds credence to the rumors and overall feeling that Strikeforce is a less-than-organized promotion.