Bloody Elbow Book Review — Fedor: The Fighting System of the World’s Undisputed King of MMA

With Affliction: Day of Reckoning showing every sign of actually taking place this weekend, I thought it would be a good time to review…

By: Nate Wilcox | 15 years ago
Bloody Elbow Book Review — Fedor: The Fighting System of the World’s Undisputed King of MMA
Bloody Elbow 2.0 | Anton Tabuena

With Affliction: Day of Reckoning showing every sign of actually taking place this weekend, I thought it would be a good time to review Fedor Emelianenko’s book, Fedor: The Fighting System of the World’s Undisputed King of MMA from Victory Belt Publishing.

It’s no secret that I’m a total mark for Victory Belt’s body of work. Co-authors Erich Krauss and Glen Cordoza have also done books with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Randy Couture, B.J. Penn, Karo Parisyan, and Anderson Silva and I’ve enjoyed them all.

When my wife first bought me the B.J. Penn book I was like “aww, thanks honey” but never thought I’d do more than flip through it once or twice and feel guilty for not training. But what I found is that these books are truly excellent resources even for armchair warriors like myself.

There’s no better window into the strategy, tactics and fighting philosophy than these Victory Belt books and Fedor’s is no exception. Sure a DVD packs a lot of information, but I can’t take a DVD to the crapper, read it in bed, read it while I’m eating lunch, etc etc. I like to get these books and after I read them cover to cover, just spend another week or too dragging it around like a security blanket, flipping around, soaking it in, chewing, reviewing, mulling and letting the information soak in.

First thing that I noticed about Fedor’s book — the dude is just nasty mean. The phrase “continue your assaut” must occur about 500 times throughout the text. Also, in contrast to the other fighters in the series, Fedor seems to really smack his sparring partner Kiril real hard a good percentage of the time. Anderson Silva for example clearly was throwing at half-speed or less and several inches back from where his shots would impact in a real fight, not Fedor. Poor Kiril’s mullet is sent flying in several shots where Fedor decided to really throw the punch.

The second thing that jumped out at me is how effing smart Fedor is. I was expecting the book to be similar to B.J. Penn’s since the two fighters are the best in MMA IMO at transitioning from striking to grappling but instead it was more like Nogueira’s book in terms of thinking several steps ahead. Fedor is always thinking about setting up his next attack. Every punch, every kick, every pass, every takedown is applied with a clear idea of how the opponent will react and what opportunities will be created.

Third, like Anderson Silva, Fedor leads with Counter-Attacks. This is crucial for understanding Fedor’s style. He always works to control the initiative in his fights and every attack by an opponent is considered in terms of the opportunities it presents for Fedor to get back on the attack.

Another thing that lept out at me, is just how judo-based Fedor’s style is. Sure I knew that Sambo drew heavily on judo but I hadn’t really thought about it until I pored over the section on takedowns. Fedor doesn’t talk about using the single leg takedown, and his version of the double leg has more in common with Karo Parisyan’s than Randy Couture’s. Fedor’s approach to take downs is all about applied judo, using the opponent’s momentum against him to get the fight on the ground.

And finally, I wonder how effective some of this stuff would be for the average mixed martial artist. Fedor relies on his power and explosiveness a great deal. Clearly it works but I’m not sure its a road map for other fighters to follow exactly. Also, his punching techniques are eccentric and its no surprise that he’s injured his thumbs in many fights. Also note that Fedor and Kiril spar in very large mits and leg pads. I’m sure that lets them throw harder in sparring than most would advise. Nevertheless, Fedor’s approach is pretty much sheer genius. Not a lot of extraneous flash, but it’s a truly complete MMA system that everyone can learn something from.

That’s about all I have room for, but I could talk about this book all week. Its really a treat. But I must mention, that as always with Victory Belt, the photos are clear, there are close-ups when needed, the layout and organization make sense and its easy to find things with the colored section tabs.

The best part about this book for me was thinking “ooo, in just a few weeks/days/hours we’ll get to see Fedor putting this stuff to work against one of his toughest opponents ever.” I can’t wait for this weekend’s fight!

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About the author
Nate Wilcox
Nate Wilcox

Nate Wilcox is the founding editor of As such he has hired every editor and writer to work for the site. Wilcox’s writing for BE is known for its emphasis on MMA history, the evolution of fighting techniques and strong opinions. Wilcox developed the SBN MMA consensus rankings which were featured in USA Today from 2009 to 2011. Before founding BE, Wilcox was a political operative working for such figures as Senators John Kerry and Mark Warner and an early political blogger. He is the co-author of Netroots Rising, a history of the political blogosphere from 2003 to 2007. Wilcox also hosts the Let It Roll podcast on music history for the Pantheon Podcast Network.

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