Fedor Emelianenko: The best MMA fighter to never link with the UFC.

Fedor Emelianenko was the pride of Russia. A legend, the Russian was one of the earliest elite Combat Sambo fighters and one of the most dangerous mixed martial artists of all time. His style was brutal and, at his best, no one knew how to overcome his skill as a martial artist.

After winning the “King of Kings” championship at the Japanese “RINGS” promotion, Fedor debuted in PRIDE, defeating Dutchman Semmy Schilit. His first major win in MMA came just months later against Heath Herring. Fedor pounded Herring, prompting the doctor to stop the contest after the opening round.

The Herring win lined up his first Pride FC title contest. It was a heart-winning, fan-making performance against “Little Nog” Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in 2003. Nogueira, despite having one of the best guards in MMA, was rendered completely defenseless as Fedor let the strikes fly. The Russian dominated a majority of the fight, capturing the Pride FC heavyweight title, which he would retain without trouble against top-flight opposition until the promotion’s disbandment in 2007.

Fedor would get four victories outside of Pride before debuting in Strikeforce. He defeated Brett Rogers by TKO before being shocked by Fabricio Werdum in 2010, his first loss in nearly a decade of mixed martial arts competition.

Emelianenko lost twice more in Strikeforce before being bumped to regional competition. He beat Pedro Rizzo, Jeff Monson, and Satoshi Ishii before officially announcing his retirement after his final bout in 2012.

Fedor remains involved in mixed martial arts, being a partial owner of M1 Global Promotion and the president of the Russia MMA Union. At 37, he seems satisfied with his career and will likely opt to remain retired, despite temptations. A good decision by a combat sports legend.

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