The End of an Era

By E.Spencer Kyte

If he walks away, he does so as one of the best ever

My reaction to Fedor Emelianenko’s crushing defeat and subsequent talk of retirement falls somewhere between the smiley face tweeted by UFC President Dana White and the thousands of obscenity-laced responses that followed.

I’m neither a Pride loyalist nor do I live in a UFC vacuum; I’m an MMA fan.

As such, watching the end of the Emelianenko era was both a reminder of why I love this sport and a moment of sadness, as one of the all-time greats spoke reflectively about walking away.

Antonio Silva’s win over Fedor is another example of how the sport has evolved and continues to grow. Just as Wayne Gretzky stopped being unstoppable on the ice and Michael Jordan looked human as a member of the Washington Wizards, Fedor was no longer the unbeatable Russian icon Saturday night. That’s okay.

For the sport to keep moving forward, new stars need to emerge. While Silva will never be an icon on Emelianenko’s level, his win served notice that he is a force to be reckoned with in the heavyweight ranks.

Seeing Fedor’s eye swollen over and the defeated, disinterested look on his face after the fight was also pretty hard to take.

When you strip away tough Tweets and the rose-colored glasses of whatever organization you pledge allegiance to, one thing should remain undeniable if you’re a true MMA fan: Fedor Emelianenko is one of the best ever.

Beyond who he has fought over the last five years, and outside the borders of Pride vs. UFC battles that should have been put to rest long ago, only one fact is needed to illustrate just how impressive Emelianenko was over his career.

From April 6, 2001 until June 26, 2010, Emelianenko fought 28 times without losing; the only thing standing between “The Last Emperor” and a perfect 28-0 mark during that time is a No Contest in his second meeting with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.

For more than nine years, no one was able to beat Fedor.

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