Following last evenings brutal knockout over the previously undefeated light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans at UFC 98, it’s nearly impossible to not compare the man known as “The Dragon” to the one commonly referred to as “The Last Emperor”.
Both Fedor Emelianenko and Lyoto Machida have earned their reputations as two of the best fighters in the planet by defeating the best competition the world has brought before them. Neither has suffered a legitimate defeat in their battle tested careers (outside of Fedor’s bogus loss due to a cut suffered to Tsuyoshi Kohsaka in 2000 which he avenged with a wicked beating in 2005). These are the obvious comparisons.
Another thing that jumps out about both of these fighting gentlemen is the fact that you will likely see neither throwing up their middle fingers or dropping F-bombs anytime in their respective careers. As a matter of fact I have never once heard Fedor mumble the expression “Otebis”, or Lyoto being quoted as saying “Va’ se foder!” during any of the interviews I have seen.
Machida and Fedor could both truly be seen as ambassadors to the sport with their quiet and respectful demeanor outside of the cage. Even upon entering the ring both are extremely familiar in the way that they seem to be somewhere else far away mentally, in their happy place, with their power animal.
Style-wise they couldn’t be any more different though. Machida is the least hit fighter in the history of the UFC, he employs an elusive counter striking style on a level that has never before been seen in mixed martial arts, while Fedor is more of a man-bear. Sure Fedor doesn’t make it a habit to block punches with his jaw by any stretch of the imagination but he has long been known for utilizing a more aggressive overpowering style where he simply imposes his will and superior technique on his victims.
From an age perspective both men are similar with Fedor being 32 years of age while Machida is just 30. Either fighter could choose to remain active for another 5-10 years safely based on their styles of fighting combined with a mutual ability to avoid punishment.
However, Fedor is much older as far as ring time is concerned. He began his professional fighting career in May of 2000 and Lyoto got things started in May of 2003. Fedor has more than doubled the Brazilian’s time in the ring competing in 32 professional matches compared to Machida’s 15.
Let’s just be real for a second. Emelianenko has been considered the best in the game for quite some time now and we need to seriously start to consider how much longer we will have the opportunity to watch the legendary Sambo expert wreak havoc on the heavyweight division. The man is filthy rich in Russia, living the good life. I’m sure that money isn’t everything to a champion as proud as Fedor, but realistically, what’s left for “The Baddest Man on the Planet” to prove to himself or the sport for that matter. I think we’re going to have the heavyweight king for another two or three bouts max, and this is the point where Machida will very likely assume the role as the mystical, unbeatable champion.
Even though Lyoto accomplished what is considered to be the pinnacle of fighting when he knocked out Rashad Evans to capture the UFC’s light heavyweight championship last evening, something tells me that he is far from done evolving and proving what he has set out to prove in this sport before he considers stepping away.
Many are waiting for someone to figure out the riddle that is Machida’s impenetrable fighting style, unfortunately for the rest of the men that plan on competing at 205 pounds, the answer to that riddle may take longer to solve than previously expected.