Why I Do Not Care About Fedor’s Comeback

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Once the rumors started to spread that Fedor Emelianenko was returning to MMA the fight world started to go crazy with excited anticipation. At the center of this excitement is the possibility that after many years and failed attempts, Fedor could finally be headed for the UFC. I am not one of those fans. Do not get me wrong, I am not saying he should not come back, I am just saying I have little interest in it.

Jordan the Comeback 2.0

For me it is much the same as when Michael Jordan came back the second time, you remember the Washington Wizards years.

While I was a big basketball fan at the time I had little interest in watching Jordan play for the Wizards. I had no interest in watching Jordan become a normal good player and that is what he was at that point in his career, a normal good player. Still amongst the top-twenty in the league but no longer at the top.

I had no interest in watching Allen Iverson crossing Jordan over, or worse, seeing lesser players do it to him. Jordan did attain records for players over 40-years old but it was not the same as it was during his years of greatness. The impact he had on the game, his teammates and with the fans was a diluted version of the one who ruled the league years before.

I understand that it is a shame that the man many consider to be the greatest MMA fighter never fought in the top organization in the sport. And Fedor not fighting in the UFC would be like Jordan not playing in the NBA.

Tantalizingly Close Before, and Now So Far Away 

Several times it seemed like Fedor singing with the UFC was eminent only to be derailed. Instead of the UFC he fought in Affliction, Strikeforce, M-1 and Dream after his Pride career. It was the Strikeforce years that did the most damage to him.

Going into his first Strikeforce fight Fedor was 30-1 and had not lost in nearly ten years. He left them with a 31-4 record going 1-3. All three losses were finishes and came after he defeated Brett Rogers in his Strikeforce debut.

After suffering the three consecutive losses, Fedor would pickup two more wins in M-1 and one more in Dream before walking away from the sport. But, like so many fighters before him Fedor is having trouble staying away from the sport. Over the last few weeks the rumors started about a comeback and unlike other times these seem to be true.

The thought of Fedor in the UFC has many salivating much like Washington Wizards fans were when they signed Jordan. Any dreams of championships were quickly quelled by the mediocre play of his teammates. Jordan was no longer the player that could elevate them above their limitations even though he was still an effective one. Watching him was not the same because he was no longer the same player.

Even Greatness Ages Into Averageness Eventually

It was not fun watching someone special, someone great look like an average top player. It will be the same for me for Fedor because it is impossible to not age. Even greatness succumbs to the effects of growing old and Fedor will be the same.

I know many fans will be quick to point out that in combat sports heavyweights tend to age a little better than fighters from the lower weight-classes, and this is true. It is the same in the NBA, centers and forwards tend to age better than guards.

This is for one simple reason and that is speed. In the NBA, even the craftiest of guards will only last as long as their speed allows them. Once they lose that step, cannot keep up on defense, or get open for their shots the game will pass them by. It is sad to see that happen to a legend in a sport like basketball but it is something different in combat sports. The cost is harsher, it is more than pride that gets hurt.

The reason for bringing speed up is that it was one of the key elements of Fedor’s abilities. He was one of the faster and smaller heavyweights. His speed, combined with his power and build, created his explosiveness which he used to suddenly attack or reverse his position. Offensively he used it to create openings for submissions or to knock people out.

It’s What You Do With It

While many people consider shorter arms a detriment in a fight, the reality is more about who can use their abilities the best. Fedor used his short arms to create devastating power in close with standing and especially in the ground-and-pound. The shorter arms allowed him to generate power where others could not. He was aided by his explosive hips as well.

The shorter arms also made him more difficult to arm-bar. He was also a master at slipping punches in close, almost to the point where he would be frustrating to his opponent as they would just miss.

A great example of this was in his fight with Heath Herring at Pride 23. In that fight Fedor busted Herring up for much of the round. Herring hung tough and found himself on top of Fedor in last two minutes of the long first round. Continually Herring tried to land some shots from the top but struggled to connect with anything solidly.

Fedor expertly tucked his head in, moved it to the slide, slid it over slightly, then twisted it away ever so slightly and at the same time raised his arm to deflect another attack. When someone was able to land something cleanly, it was as if they hit him with nothing. There would be little reaction at all from him not even the smile that most fighters give out when they are caught clean. Fedor would just keep coming forward.

That all changed in Strikeforce but there were glimpses of it before those three losses. We saw it in the Andre Arlovski fight. In that one Arlovski had Fedor in trouble and seemed on the verge of the upset. Instead one of the most historically ill-timed flying-knees left Arlovski prone on the ground out-cold.

It is hard for me to get that three-fight losing streak out of my head. During that stretch Fedor looked old and human. I do not want to see more of the same from him and it is difficult to imagine it being different for him in the UFC.

Its Fedor’s Comeback to Make or Not

Understand, I am not saying he should not comeback, that is his decision to make but I do not have much interest in watching him fight again.

If he does come back, any losses will not tarnish his legacy anymore than Jordan’s last comeback tarnished his. You judge greatness during its run of greatness not at the end of the career. What Fedor did during the peak of his career was amazing and will always be amazing. Nothing he does now takes away from that time.

I will of course watch his fight but not with excitement. Instead, it will be more with an anxious trepidation of hopefulness. I want him to do well, I want him to give us that fairytale ending and it would be amazing if he could string together a couple of big wins and even capture the title. But, this is not Hollywood or the WWE where you can script out the endings and the old aging fighter rarely overcomes the young physically gifted fighters.

Moments Lost to Never Be Recaptured 

For me I will also be a little wistful because it reminds me of what we lost. There was the perfect moment for Fedor to make his UFC debut and that moment has long been lost. It was before the three Strikforce losses, it was during the time he was still considered the best in the world.

If Fedor had signed with the UFC back in 2007-2008 and fought Randy Couture it would have been one of the truly epic moments in the sport. Then depending how that fight would have unfolded would have determined its final place in history, but just it happening would have made it historic.

Instead of a historic Fedor debut fight in the UFC, one that would have had me teeming with excitement, we are left with one that will have me watching with one-eye covered and both fingers-crossed. One that will most likely have me going to Fight Pass to watch some of his Pride fights from the glory-days.