Fedor Emelianenko has dominated the competition for years looking much like he did tonight. The man famous for his ice cream cones, well, looks like a man who is intimately familiar with ice cream cones. Fedor weighed in for his main event contest with Fabricio Werdum at 229 pounds. And that was a soft 229 pounds.
If you were describing Fedor’s physique in a single word it might be “doughy.” Tonight he was sporting love handles that would be too much for even the mammoth pawed Shane Carwin to grab in a single handful. In the past, when Fedor was younger, quicker, and stronger, this wasn’t a huge issue. Against today’s crop of giant heavyweights? It can make all the difference.
We saw Fedor get bulled around the cage by a green Brett Rogers. Tonight, he looked like a much smaller man than Fabricio Werdum. And, scarily enough, at 6-4 and 238 well proportioned pounds, Werdum is not a big heavyweight. It’s no longer 2005-and Fedor Emelianenko is no longer the fighter he once was. To compete realistically against the best fighters of the modern era, Emelianenko needs to be physical equals with the man staring across the cage at him. In short, Fedor needs to drop to 205 pounds.
We’ve seen this phenomenon before in MMA and it almost always involves the very best of the best. After all, maybe it’s only the transcendent fighter that can give away 20 pounds or more-and still walk away the victor time and time again. The recently retired Frank Shamrock is one example. The current Strikeforce color-man once dominated the UFC’s light heavyweight division-all while never coming close to the weight limit. A natural 185 pounder, Shamrock might have successfully made a cut to 170 pounds. Instead, he was so good he didn’t have to.
Kazushi Sakuraba was the same way. The Japanese phenom won a UFC Heavyweight Tournament at 185 pounds and proceeded to smackdown the competition in Pride despite giving up ten or more pounds in many bouts Only when he met up with the fearsome Wanderlei Silva did Saku learn that size did indeed matter.
Like Sakuraba and Shamrock, Fedor was in another league. He was good enough to get away with giving away height and girth. He was skilled enough to win without being in peak physical condition. When Fedor returns, if Fedor returns, I hope it is a new Emelianenko. I hope we see some abs. Maybe he can trade in the ice cream for some yogurt and make a comeback at 205 pounds against another light heavyweight looking for redemption- Dan Henderson.
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