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On Fedor and the MMA Hardcore Community

FedorI don’t know what happened. One day things were as per normal in the internet MMA community, the next thing people have gone certified insane. Maybe the blame should go to Josh Barnett for starting off this chain reaction that has led to Fedor Emelianenko being (unjustly) the most vilified MMA star this side of Gilbert Yvel. Things have moved quickly and Barnett has become merely an afterthought in the UFC/M-1 mamushka.

Hardcore, computer friendly MMA fans are constantly reminded how we make up a small portion of the larger MMA network. While that may be true, we consider ourselves educated and often superior to the casual rubes. We turn our collective noses up at the notion that many so called MMA fans are actually UFC fans. No doubt they are the ones calling it “Ultimate Fighting” as well.

The nerve.

Maybe I’ve been buying into this self gratifying back patting myself. Sure there are online MMA communities that are stereotypically filled with TUF N00bs (as if that’s a bad thing) such as the quintessential punch line Sherdog forums. Yet there are plenty of places to go for high brow insight and conversation above such petty squabbling over who’s really the biggest Penn nut-hugger. The Underground, Bloody Elbow, Five Ounces of Pain. Unfortunately this latest Fedor saga has brought out the worst in the MMA community and shown just how irrational and bias many of the so-called MMA elite really are.

After Fedor’s announced signing with Strikeforce many fans were livid at Fedor’s refusal to fight in their favorite organization. And don’t be fooled, that is what this boils down to. People have been unwittingly caught up in the UFC hyperbole and are projecting their anger on Fedor in ridiculous jumps of logic. “Fedor is scared and is ducking the UFC’s heavyweights.” “Fedor needs the UFC to cement his legacy.” “Fedor is fighting scrub competition by not signing with the UFC.” Let’s look at this one by one.

Fedor is scared and/or ducking the UFC’s heavyweights. Out of all the arguments leveled at Fedor this is the most asinine. How fans can assume to know what is going on in Fedor’s head is beyond me. Mind you these charges are being leveled at a man who is 30-1, beat Nogueira twice, defeated Cro Cop when he was at his peak, beat both Sylvia and Arlovski when it meant something, and was scheduled to take on the number one contender to his crown until Barnett failed a drug test. Spend any time listening to Fedor in interviews and it should be readily apparent that fear or attempting to avoid the best are not on Fedor’s radar.

Fedor needs the UFC to cement his legacy. Certainly success in the UFC would enhance Fedor’s legacy and bring him to the attention of legions of more fans but his legacy is as secure as his past accomplishments. No one accomplishment would put Fedor on the map like a victory over UFC bad boy Brock Lesnar. Still, the victories in Fedor’s already storied career compile a better resume than any heavyweight in mixed martial arts short history. Fedor’s legacy is secure and it’ll take one helluva run to top it.

Fedor will be fighting lesser competition by fighting outside of the UFC. This is the most valid of the arguments being made although still somewhat inaccurate. The heavyweight division has been in flux after several years of dominance by Fedor, Nogueria, Cro Cop, Barnett, Arlovski, Couture, and Sylvia rotating in and out of the top spots. Now over the course of the past year Nogueria has had some poor showings raising questions over how much he has left, Cro Cop has become mortal, Arlovski and Sylvia have plummeted while Couture is in an ever present battle against the clock. It’s a changing of the worldwide MMA heavyweight division guard. And while many of the would-be usurpers are signed with Zuffa, several are not. A rejuvenated Overeem could cause Fedor fits. Brett Rogers is quickly making a name for himself. Jeff Monson is riding a seven fight win streak. Obviously none of these match ups carry the same luster as Fedor/Lesnar and short of Overeem no one would have a respectable shot of pulling the upset… something due to Fedor’s dominance as much as anything. Non Zuffa fights are overall not as fresh or marketable as Couture or the winner of Carwin/Velasquez but respectable all the same.

Still, with all that said, I am disappointed Fedor didn’t sign with Zuffa. I think it’s better competition, more interesting fights, and would most likely do more for his wallet. But who am I to say what the man should have done? Fedor obviously has different priorities from most of us, some potentially so culturally different from the western capitalist mentality that it’s hard to fathom. We can lament his decision to sign for Strikeforce but let’s try to be reasonable without getting caught up in the hysterics. Just because we’d have taken the Zuffa deal doesn’t mean Fedor or his management are wrong for going another direction with the second largest American MMA organization that happens to have a good reputation.

Who knows, maybe we’ll as fans be lucky and Fedor will divorce himself from M-1 at the end of his current contract with them (rumored to be three more fights) giving Fedor much more personal freedom in his career. And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to opine for an undefeated year and a half for Mr. Emelianenko and Mr. Lesnar culminating in Fedor’s eventual signing with the UFC in an epic showdown at Madison Square Garden.

A man can dream, can’t he?

  • Brendhan Conlan says:

    Good points (and nice to see you back)!

  • metalmulisha says:

    Very good article. One of the better ones I’ve read on here in awhile.

  • Jak says:

    I just want to see Lyoto Machida vs. Fedor Emelianenko or Brock Lesnar vs. Fedor Emelianenko.

    I don’t give a sh*t what banner it is under, UFC, M-1, Strikeforce… in a parking lot. who cares.

    Then again, i suppose i am a “noob” for wanting the best fighter to fight the best fighters.

    Ironically, i get p*ssed off when the UFC gives Thales Leites, Joe Stevenson or Shogun Rua title shots.

    But, again, i’m just a noob for wanting to see top fighters fight other top fighters. :)

  • ozz_the_powerful says:


    Great post and thanks for your insight. It’s exactly that though…. YOUR insight.

    People are going to jump to conclusions and get pissed off and run at the mouth and say things like you said above, myself included.

    I’ll be the first one to sit right here right now and tell you I said A LOT of that stuff myself. I still believe in a small way, small mind you, that Fedor doesn’t want to come to the UFC b/c he KNOWS he will get his first loss. Hate to break it to you, but currently, the UFC does have the best roster for heavyweights.

    Definately not Strikeforce. As someone else mentioned, they think the belt hasn’t been defended since 2007 due to a lack of roster. Hmmm, seems like the place to go if you want to clean it out before making your final run in the UFC right?

    Look, I’m not a UFC fan, I’m an MMA fan, but I know quality when I see it. Fedor is trying to be the daimond in the rough by signing with SF, but I do believe that most of it is financially motivated, that being the co-promotion.

    I stand behind the statement of Fedor will be fighting lesser competition. You named Overeem and Rogers…… THATS IT. Look at the list you put down for the UFC.

    In the end, it’s a keyboard warriors game here. We all have our own opinions. I appreciate your insight, as I hope you appreciate mine, as I thoroughly enjoy eveyone elses.

  • notdanawhite says:

    it seems like fedor and co. are in for the long haul. perhaps there is more profit to be made as an M-1 partner, if they are able to successfully develop a promotion in the US and elsewhere. the deal with Strikeforce apparently includes co-promotion and partnership with Showtime. done correctly (and strikeforce has made all the right moves so far) Strikeforce/M1 might possibly leverage this into a successful national or international promotion.

    there’s room for two top quality fight orgs in the world.

    the sports still evolving, still really in it’s formative years.

  • slammy862 says:

    I don’t buy it. He seems to be attempting to market himself as larger than the sport. That’s the only reason he demands on co-promotion.(and yes, he does have a say in this.)

    He once said his toughest opponent was cro cop. He watched what happened to his friend and noticed the writing on the wall. Just like Royce Gracie. Once thought to be unbeatable, then the sport caught up to him.

    Maybe it’s just grandstanding to build up to a huge UFC event in the future. That’s fine with me, but don’t think Fedor isn’t human.

    Once he losses, he becomes just one of the crowd in a strong developing hwt division.

  • metalmulisha says:

    Most of the guys fighting in the UFC heavyweight division right now are only thought of as highly as they are because they’re in the UFC.
    If Frank Mir, Shane Carwin, and Cheick Kongo fought in other promotions they wouldn’t be held in nearly as high regard.
    People are all over Shane Carwin’s nuts and the guy’s never fought over two minutes in a fight it’s crazy. Even Lesnar he beat the hell out of Frank Mir who’s always folded when he starts getting hit and things go bad it a fight is a bit overrated. I mean come on the guy’s had 5 fights is 4 and 1 and UFC Nuthuggers are trying to convince people themselves included he’s the best heavyweight in the world. Give me a break that is asinine.

    Bottom line yeah a lot of MMA fans wanted to see Fedor in the UFC because it’s the biggest stage and for fights with Lesnar and Couture for some reason.
    But the fans who only care about the UFC and only think this sport is about the UFC wanted to see Fedor in the UFC only in the hopes he would lose.

  • Caleb Newby says:

    Ozz – Thanks for the response. As I believe I mentioned, the competition is, in my opinion, the most open for debate of the issues I raised. As metalmulisha said, and I tend to agree, much of the reason the Carwin’s of the UFC are regarded as high as they are is because of the glitz of fighting in the UFC and the marketing they provide… even when we try to distance ourselves from that when coming up with rankings.

    But even if the UFC heavyweights are currently considered better than the non-UFC heavyweights (which is something I may not argue against) the difference between them is much closer than, say, the Zuffa welterweights vs. the rest of the field.

    Hope that makes sense. Like I said, I think it’s up for debate and friendly disagreement as long as it’s not viewed as an ironclad “there are no good heavyweights outside of Zuffa” mindset.

  • ekc says:

    thank you for a logical article… thank you.

  • Hohlraum says:

    People are forgetting that Fedor is a Heavyweight. The UFC’s heavyweight division isn’t that interesting, at all. I can’t believe some of the crap some of the crap I’m reading on lesser blogs.

  • Jak says:

    Caleb… or Ozz… whoever… :)

    i do have question about all this that wasn’t answered in the one by one, and that is that M-1 clearly and continuously called out the UFC and Lesnar. But when the offer was presented they rejected it(i realize the co-promotion part), but that doesn’t really change that the whole reason all of this even got built up as a possibility was because it was only a few months ago at Affliction 2 that M-1 was calling out the UFC.

    Am i wrong in thinking that had M-1 not been calling for a Fedor vs. Lesnar fight that this wouldn’t have completely blown up?

    The second thing i think the article misses, which i’ve been reading a lot of, is that the UFC is known for lowballing fighters and that was one of the biggest critiques against them, but in this situation, even if the 30+ wasn’t true, they clearly went out of the usual practices and did everything short of giving half of the UFC on nights Fedor is fighting to M-1. It seems that even anti-UFC hardcores even seemed to think they actually tried to go out of their way to get this done.

    Again, am I wrong in thinking this as well?

  • Caleb Newby says:

    Hey ya Jak,

    I’d say, conjecture of course, that even if M-1 didn’t try to sell this fight that after UFC 100 people would be clamoring for it on their own pretty fervently. Maybe M-1 stoked the fire but after the course of events that have unfolded it seems that it was inevitable.

    Regarding the UFC contracts, based on what we know (and let’s remember that M-1 and Zuffa reports on the details of the offer differ so we can’t say for certain what the deal was… no matter how much we’d like to believe one side over the other), I would 100% agree that Zuffa went out of their way with a strong offer and making concessions. And the UFC would be foolish to co-promote. From all accounts Dana went out of his way and should be applauded. My point is only that because Fedor took that deal he doesn’t need to be vilified and to cut back on some of the more unfounded attacks made towards him.

  • ozz_the_powerful says:

    Caleb, agreed completely. Honestly though, great write up.

    Jak, this is just me, but I don’t think you’re wrong about UFC / Zuffa trying to attain Fedor. They really did go all out, but in the end, it was co-promotion.

    I still think that the fight would have gotten blown up due to the fact of what happened after the Couture fight. Everyone thought that if ANYONE was going to beat Lesnar, it would be Randy. Well, when it didn’t happen, Fedor’s name was blasted EVERYWHERE.

    To me, I think that’s what REALLY got the ball rolling

    Hohlraum, you’re not alone in reading the crap. I’ve seen it as well

  • Jak says:

    Thanks for the responses. Not much i can really respectfully debate about either response. :)

    Although, i do think even without co-promotion, M-1 would have gotten an immense amount of exposure, in turn building their own company and basically being able to piggy back on the UFC name similar to how Affliction was able to build their company and name.

    That said, hopefully we get some fight announcements soon for SF… WEC, 101, 102, 104, Strikeforce… Sengoku 10… looks like a good couple upcoming months.

  • David Andrest says:

    It’s been great to talk about, but that is where it ends for me.

    neither side has ever changed their story.

    M-1 demands co-promotion.
    UFC doesn’t co-promote.

    It’s never been a secret, and regardless of who you agree with, we can’t pretend to not know this issue was there, and will be there.

    I think you nailed it Caleb. “Fedor obviously has different priorities from most of us, some potentially so culturally different from the western capitalist mentality that it’s hard to fathom.”

    As fans we can be disappointed, but everyone should have known all along.

  • VENOM says:

    This has to be THE BEST opinion piece I’ve ever read in this site. Thank you very much, Caleb. You nailed every point I’ve been trying to make to all the Fedor-Haters over the last few days.
    It’s nice to see an educated MMA mind writing for such a popular MMA site.

    Many kudos to you and keep up the great work!

  • moosebaby02 says:

    Jak i guess im a noob as well. and I will state that like ozz and alot and of people IM A MMA FAN and want to see the fights that i could SPEND MY MONEY ON. me wanting see fedor try and put down lesnar and I DONT CARE WHERE OF HOW IT HAPPENS is me being a MMA FAN is all i want. like i have said before in the end WE THE FANS ARE THE ONES PUTTING THE $$$$$ IN THEIR POCKETS so why not cry out for what we want to see or call out a supposed fighter for not given me THE FAN WHO IS PUTTING $$$ IN IS POCKET the fight i want to see.
    Caled great piece and i see what your saying.
    So since we werent there in the room we can just have opions. NOW when do we get a break down of this pretty good card on saturday that as a fan I will be PAYING FOR????

  • Great article, Caleb. While I may not specifically agree with every single point, it was a pleasure to read. The one thing that should be reiterated is that all of this may not be financially motivated. Everybody seems to think that this is all about money. A wise man once told me “Don’t judge other people’s money”. People say “the UFC made $87M on the UFC 100 PPV while the fighters only got $2M of that”. Until the UFC opens their books and/or becomes a public company, we’ll never know the real numbers (or their actual profit). M-1 would seem to have some other type of motivations. I’m thinking that maybe Vadim Finkelstein is clamoring to be the next puppet for Putin (aka President Finkelstein)?

    The other point that’s worth repeating that I read several days ago is the fact that the Fertittas are essentially bound by the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Dana all but said that co-promotion is impossible and now we know why. Clearly the Fertittas have no interest in being associated with M-1 and their reported “shady” dealings. Why risk losing their gaming license?

  • fanoftna33 says:

    I cant wait for saturday like you moose. It has some very interesting fights on it. I said it yesterday, I think Pelligrino vs Neer for fight of the night.

  • TheHouse says:

    Shouldn’t the competition be chasing Fedor? I mean, everyone says he is the best (including me) so wouldn’t it something close to when BJ, Sherk, Liddel, Coleman, Shamrock and a bunch of others kinda jumped ship because of how Pride was doing the level of competition was over in Japan. Not that I want anyone to leave and head over to strike force but I would honestly be worried if Lesner does well in the next couple fights. I mean if he wants to cement HIS legacy he needs to dethrone the king. Anyone have any thoughts about Lesner also leaving to fight Fedor if he keeps winning?

  • David Andrest says:

    TheHouse you really need to stop with all that fancy logic and book leaarnin.

    Zuffa is the 733t Org and all must sign with them or they are not the best.

  • edub says:

    Overeem is not good enough to challenge Fedor IMO. I think the only ones who would come close in fighting Fedor would be: Lesnar, Carwin, Machida, Cain, and Couture. I dont see anyone else coming close.

    Oh if he fights Rogers itll be over in the first.

  • ozz_the_powerful says:

    I think if Lesnar cleans out the UFC, he’ll just stay there. Why leave? Let them come to him. He’s where the money and exposure is.

    Dave, I know you’re just picking.

  • ozz_the_powerful says:

    Good post, edub.

    Am I the only one that saw Overeem getting worked by Buentello, in the stand up, at least?

    I would be more excited about Machida vs Fedor or Randy vs Fedor than anything. I just think Brock is going to reign for a long time.

  • moosebaby02 says:

    fanoftna33….its always a safe bet for fight of the night when Neer is involed. wish that the Alessio vs Leitess makes air time. just love the way Legionarius fights

  • Davey D says:

    Caleb…I think the atricle you wrote was well written and sums up the last 2 weeks pretty good. It is crazy when you think of all the reason’s why Fedor didn’t end up in the UFC. Had he, maybe everyone wouldn’t be all worked up and disecting everything given to us.

    The fact is, most of us have been waiting a long time. Some are willing to accept that Fedor wants to give Strikeforce a try, like myself. Some other’s aren’t. Maybe one of the factor’s of it is he wants to adjust to fighting inside a cage? That is not fear, smart planning if you ask me. Maybe he signed with Strikeforce because after this deal, it could be that he’ll be free to sign with the UFC. If you look at the big picture, it could be anything. Until we can read mind’s, we’ll never know exactly.

    You had said that money probably isn’t the case involving Fedor…while it most likely in fact isn’t. I think that is a coin flip at this moment in time. He is also signed with M-1/Vadim and that means Co-Promotion is paramount. Strikeforce accepts while Zuffa declines. If it were Fedor and Fedor alone…perphaps he would’ve just signed with the UFC? Either way, we’ll see him in October (possibly Halloween) on Showtime followed by CBS and/or a PPV. He has 3 fight’s in one year to complete. I’m very interested in seeing how this all plays out. Let the chips fall where they may.

    Lastly, I just want to say that I feel that the UFC HW divison is as strong now as it probably has ever been. It’ll only get better. The UFC is where almost every fighter strives to be. They are the Leauge. Not many can achieve what Fedor has without the UFC & no one will probably ever do it again. Someday, I truly belive we’ll see Fedor Emelianenko step inside the Octagon. I for one am willing to wait until that time comes. Should it never, well…Fedor is just one of a kind. Cheers!!!

  • edub says:

    Good post Davey D made. I like your style.

  • neijia says:

    Thank you Caleb for this article.

    Good post Davey D.

    I am a Fedor fan. A Rampage fan. A Machida fan. An Anderson Silva fan. I am not a UFC, M-1, or Strikeforce fan. I did like the zaniness of PRIDE a bit, like Kitchen Stadium ported to Saitama. Just a little weird. But I really can’t stand Dana. And now I am feeling like I don’t like Vadim. Feeling like the “producers” are leeches off the “talent”. Though obviously someone has to take care of the business.

  • CMT says:

    Damn good article, unfortunately I am a day late and a $ short on getting in on the comments.

  • egad81 says:

    I think Fedor is going to clean house in Strikeforce in 3 fights…. then he will be done with Strikeforce and M-1 (aka Russian Bravta)
    Then the UFC will make him the richest man in MMA.

    and i love the Madison Square Garden theory… I hope it plays out like a modern day Rocky IV

  • Davey D says:

    @ edub & neijia, Thanks! Pride FC really taught me just how big this sport could be. Zuffa has taken it far beyond I’d ever imagined. A prime example will be on display this weekend with UFC 101 and WEC 42. Have fun!!!

    CMT – feel free to post whenever you want. Even though you might be late to the party, they’ll always read your comment’s. Somtimes I can’t post until a day or two later but I always try to thank someone if they like a post I write up. Cheers!!!

  • s00nertp says:

    Thanks, great article

  • mu_shin says:

    Excellent summation Caleb. I too am disappointed we won’t see Fedor in the UFC, and I agree with you down the line. This modern day Drago is not scared of anyone, including Brock. To compare Overeem and Rodgers to Brock, Couture, Noqueira, Carwin, Mir, Velasquez, dos Santos, and whoever might emerge from the HW TUF leaves Strikeforce wanting, but this sport is developing all the time. We can all hope there might be an emerging heavyweight out there with talent like LHW Jon Jones who will surprise all of us. Don’t know who or where he could be, but none of us thought of Mr. Lesnar in the context of MMA even three years ago…

    Great piece. Keep ’em coming.

  • MMA-LOGIC says:

    Simply fantastic. There is still hope for logic and reason.
    Keep it up.


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