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David Williams: A statistical look at Fedor Emelianenko’s place in MMA history

By Zach Arnold | August 15, 2011

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By David Williams

Perhaps no fighter has been a lightning rod of debate quite like Fedor Emelianenko. If a cut stoppage loss to Tsuyoshi Kosaka in his early career is thrown out, Emelianenko began his career 31-0. In a sport in which the very best fighters in the world all lose at some point, including Anderson Silva and Georges St. Pierre, Emelianenko never did. Instead, he either completely dominated his opponents, like Tim Sylvia, or came back from trouble to score an impressive victory, like he did against Kazuyuki Fujita. It seemed that no matter the opponent, no matter the challenge, Emelianenko invariably would end up with his hand raised at the end of the fight.

The problem is that Emelianenko did this without fighting in the UFC. The result was that two groups of people were constantly pitted against each other in (often irrational) online debates. To many of Emelianenko’s fans, he was a deity of mixed martial arts, an unbeatable force who simply was incapable of losing a fight, and would smash anybody the UFC had to offer. To many of Emelianenko’s detractors, he was a fraud with a career that was protected by his management, beating opponents that were far from the best challengers the sport had to offer.

Now that Emelianenko has lost three fights in a row, many are saying that recent events have proved that people like UFC President Dana White were correct in saying that Emelianenko was overrated and that Emelianenko “sucks.” White has recently gone so far as to say that building a mixed martial arts promotion around Emelianenko is “like having your promotion carried by Kimbo Slice.”

Fighters like Emelianenko are exactly why I’ve created SILVA, my statistical analysis system for estimating how good mixed martial artists are. As a completely objective system, an analysis of Fedor Emelianenko can be done without bias. My aim is to use this statistical analysis to get a reasonable, measured viewpoint about where Emelianenko’s career stacks up against the best of his generation.

The primary tool that I will use to do this is the Victory Score statistic. Victory Score uses the record of the opponent, as well as the record of the opponent’s opponents, to estimate how good an opponent is. This is an approximate measure that won’t always be the most accurate way of rating a fighter, but for the most part, provides a fairly good estimate. My standard for what represents a “UFC-quality” fighter – a Victory Score of at least 65.00 – is somewhat arbitrary, but it’s an estimate that’s based on looking through Victory Scores of hundreds of fighters. For the most part, fighters with a Victory Score of above 65.00 can at least compete in the UFC, and fighters with a Victory Score of below 65.00 would struggle mightily to win in the UFC.

By using Victory Score to rate Emelianenko’s wins, and comparing his career to that of his contemporaries, hopefully Emelianenko’s career can be put into a proper context.

Fedor Emelianenko’s RINGS career

Emelianenko was 10-1 in RINGS, including the infamous cut stoppage against Kosaka. Here are the Victory Scores of Emelianenko’s ten wins:

Renato “Babalu” Sobral – 76.45
Ricardo Arona – 63.58
Chris Haseman – 59.39
Kerry Schall – 55.07
Ryushi Yanagisawa – 51.47
Lee Hasdell – 48.31
Levon Lagvilava – 33.33

Emelianenko’s other three wins – against Martin Lazarov, Hiroya Takada, and Mihail Apostolov – were against fighters making their professional MMA debut.

The only fights worth mentioning here are Emelianenko’s wins against Renato “Babalu” Sobral and Ricardo Arona. The Sobral win easily qualifies as a win against a UFC-quality opponent, but the Arona win just misses the 65-point cutoff, as Arona was just 2-0 going into that fight (but with a win over Jeremy Horn). In any case, Emelianenko leaves RINGS a career 1-0 against UFC-quality opponents.

Fedor Emelianenko’s PRIDE career

Emelianenko was 16-0 from his debut at PRIDE 21 to his final fight at PRIDE Shockwave 2006. Here are the Victory Scores:

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (2nd) – 81.48
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (1st) – 80.81
Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic – 75.33
Heath Herring – 65.95
Mark Coleman (1st) – 65.94
Mark Coleman (2nd) – 65.14
Kevin Randleman – 64.08
Semmy Schilt – 63.84
Naoya Ogawa – 63.63
Kazuyuki Fujita – 63.48
Mark Hunt – 62.70
Zuluzinho – 61.67
Tsuyoshi Kosaka – 59.01
Gary Goodridge – 55.23
Egidijus Valavicius – 50.13
Yuji Nagata – 27.78

All told, this is a pretty harsh view of Emelianenko’s PRIDE career. The only wins that are truly highly rated are his wins against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Mirko Cro Cop. The wins against Heath Herring and Mark Coleman make it over the 65-point cutoff for UFC-quality fighters, but only barely. Still, the most important point is that Emelianenko didn’t lose a single time.

At this point, Emelianenko was 26-1 overall, but just 7-0 against UFC-quality opponents.

Fedor Emelianenko’s post-PRIDE career

Emelianenko is 5-3 since his final PRIDE fight. The Victory Scores of his wins are:

• Brett Rogers – 75.88
• Tim Sylvia – 74.78
• Matt Lindland – 74.63
• Andrei Arlovski – 69.79
• Hong Man Choi – 55.56

If Emelianenko had beaten the fighters he lost to, here are what the Victory Scores would have been:

• Antonio Silva – 77.16
• Dan Henderson – 74.04
• Fabricio Werdum – 71.87

Overall, despite building a record of 31-4, Emelianenko’s record against UFC-quality opponents is just 11-3, after reaching a peak of 11-0.

How does Fedor Emelianenko rate among his contemporaries?

Particularly, how does Emelianenko’s ability to beat quality competition hold up against the greatest heavyweights in MMA history? Here’s a list of the best fighters that the UFC and PRIDE had to offer in the heavyweight division over the years, their peak record against UFC-quality opposition, and their current record against such opposition.

• Fedor Emelianenko: Peak – 11-0, Current – 11-3
• Josh Barnett: Peak – 8-1, Current – 15-5
• Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira: Peak – 11-2, Current – 16-6
• Mirko Cro Cop: Peak – 8-1-1, Current – 13-8-1
• Randy Couture: Peak – 7-3, Current – 12-9
• Tim Sylvia: Peak – 6-2, Current – 8-6
• Frank Mir: Peak – 5-4, Current – 5-4
• Andrei Arlovski: Peak – 7-4, Current – 7-8

It’s very much worth noting that Emelianenko did not compete against quality opposition as often as his PRIDE contemporaries in Josh Barnett, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and Mirko Cro Cop. When historians look back on Emelianenko’s career, they will certainly lament some of his prime fights being wasted on guys like Zuluzinho and Hong Man Choi.

It’s also worth noting that, naturally, there are differing levels of “UFC-quality” opposition. Emelianenko’s wins against Mark Coleman and Heath Herring are on the low end of the “UFC-quality” range. Emelianenko also has two wins against opponents from lower weight classes: Renato “Babalu” Sobral is a light-heavyweight and Matt Lindland is a middleweight. However, all of the fighters on the above list share at least one of these problems. For example, Cro Cop has wins over Kazushi Sakuraba and Wanderlei Silva, and Tim Sylvia has relatively low-rated “UFC-quality” wins over guys like Assuerio Silva and Jason Riley.

With all of that having been said, at least according to this measure, there isn’t a single heavyweight fighter who can match Emelianenko’s resume. Emelianenko had the best peak record against UFC-quality opposition at 11-0, and even with his recent three-fight losing streak, still has a better winning percentage than any of the division’s best fighters from 2001 to 2006. On top of that, Emelianenko has defeated four of the fighters on this list in head-to-head matches: Nogueira, Cro Cop, Sylvia, and Arlovski. The only other fighter to even face four of the other fighters on the list is Nogueira.

While this measure is far from the be-all and end-all of determining who the best heavyweight fighter of all time is, as far as I’m concerned, the facts all point to Emelianenko being that fighter. None of the fighters listed above have a resume as good as Emelianenko’s, and neither of the recent UFC heavyweight champions (Cain Velasquez and Brock Lesnar) have been fighting long enough to warrant being included in the discussion.

How does Fedor Emelianenko rate all-time?

While Emelianenko’s relatively low percentage of fights against quality competition isn’t enough to knock him out of the top spot among heavyweights in my opinion, it really starts to hurt when discussing his status as the best all-time fighter in mixed martial arts. In the welterweight division alone, Georges St. Pierre is currently 14-1 in his career against UFC-quality opponents (with Matt Serra missing the cut), and Jon Fitch and Jake Shields are each 12-2-1. Anderson Silva is an astonishing 18-1 against such opponents. In the lightweight division, Frank Edgar is 9-1-1, Gilbert Melendez is 12-2, and Shinya Aoki is 17-4. Chuck Liddell peaked at 14-2 (before retiring at 15-7).

While I wouldn’t necessarily rank all of these fighters ahead of Emelianenko on an all-time basis, this serves to illustrate that a lot of fighters who are still in their prime have competed against quality opposition as many times or more than Emelianenko, and did so very successfully. Even though none of them achieved an 11-0 record as Emelianenko did, Emelianenko’s relative lack of high-level fights prevents him from being the #1 fighter of all time in my opinion.

Looking ahead

I mentioned earlier that Cain Velasquez hasn’t had enough fights to be in the discussion for best heavyweight fighter of all time yet. However, Velasquez has had an amazing career start. Already, Velasquez is 6-0 against UFC-quality opposition despite having only having a 9-0 overall record. Velasquez has a big fight coming up in November, when he is slated to defend his title against Junior dos Santos, who himself is 7-1 against UFC-quality opposition. Whoever wins that fight will be in great position to make a run at becoming the greatest heavyweight fighter of all time.


“Greatness” is a subjective term, and everybody is going to have a different idea of what greatness in MMA truly is. I understand that the approach I’ve outlined is just one way to answer the question of whether or not Fedor Emelianenko is the greatest heavyweight fighter of all time. For me, it’s an emphatic answer, one that should put to rest the notion that Emelianenko wasn’t ever all that good, or anything like Kimbo Slice in any way. Don’t get me wrong, I think that a guy like Cain Velasquez or Junior dos Santos could take the mantle from Emelianenko with a few more key wins. But as of right now, as far as I see it, Emelianenko is the best heavyweight ever.

David Williams can be reached @dwilliamsmma on Twitter and at his personal web site, Fantasy Fights.

Topics: M-1, Media, MMA, UFC, Zach Arnold | 67 Comments » | Permalink | Trackback |

67 Responses to “David Williams: A statistical look at Fedor Emelianenko’s place in MMA history”

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  2. Andrew Steinmeijer says:

    “Already, Velasquez is 6-0 against UFC-quality opposition”. Morris, O’Brien, Stojnic, Congo, Rothwell are all ranked just because they are in the UFC? That’s extremely robust and unintelligent way of looking at things.
    GSP losing to Serra is not taken into equation just because Serra is not ranked high? That should extremely degrade GSP, well Silva’s losses as well. That’s so poor writing I don’t even know what to say. Fedor has never lost to the low-level opposition like others did. Well, we just don’t consider it as a factor.
    Just say Fedor is the can because that’s the essence of your writing.

  3. RST says:

    It makes me sad to dwell on the catastrophe of Feds recent career, but on the brighter side of things Toney looks mob!

    Maybe M1 can talk somebody into funding Toney to whoop Feds ass these days.

    Thats a big money fight!

  4. Jonathan Snowden says:

    Your cut off point seems fairly arbitrary. Also, how are you adjusting for level of competition? Won-loss record doesn’t really seem sufficient, especially for fighters like Randleman and Herring who were almost exclusively competing against top fighters.

  5. jhf884 says:

    It says that he looks at the W-L record of the opponents’ opponents (as well the opponents W-L record), which seems like a rough way of deterimining strength of schedule.

    I’m inclined to agree though, Fedor is currently the greatest HW of all time, but probably not the greatest MMA fighter of all time (just in terms of accomplishments).

    But what do I know?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Can we stop pretending that MMA is baseball or football or any other sport with fixed schedules against a limited set of opponents? Let me state this as clearly as possible: record is a useless metric for establishing fighter quality. It is useful in other sports because every baseball team plays the same pool of available teams and all of them are assumed to meet a baseline standard of quality. Differences in strength of schedule can be compensated for because of this shallow pool of opponents. But in a world when a win against Joe Podunk counts the same as a win against a champion, your method is broken.

    This Victory Score metric is ridiculous because it admits that record alone is unreliable and then piles unreliable data on top of itself. It says that a fighter’s opponents’ record is not a good baseline because we need to know who the opponents’ opponents were. But if that’s true, then we should also need to know who were the opponents’ opponents’ opponents. But then who were the opponents’ opponents’ opponents’ opponents?. It’s a problem you can’t solve by just looking further and further into history. When you have a data source that is deceptive and unreliable, adding more of that data does not make it better.

  7. fd says:

    A ranking system that has Werdum below Brett Rogers, Hendo below Lindland?

    Seriously, ridiculous.

  8. Although I don’t think it’s necessary, I do like this system you’ve developed and I think it’s fascinating.

    The problem with the debate online is that…well, it’s a debate online. He was either awesome always or he sucked always, in a vaccuum, there is black and there is white and there is nothing in-between.

    Dana himself would be the first to tell you how utterly detestable the Heavyweight Division was in the UFC when Fedor was at his peak. In fact, it was nearly non-existent. Just look at the champions from that time period and the chaos of that division. Nobody with a sane mind and any knowledge of the sport before the first season of “The Ultimate Fighter” can tell you that Fedor wasn’t the #1 Heavyweight in the World at that time. It’s not even a debate; comparing the UFC’s Heavyweights at the time to Japan is like comparing Bellator’s Welterweight division to the UFC’s. It had that level of inequity.

    Problem is, Fedor got old like fighters tend to do, because they’re mortal. And like any other athlete in a sport, experience will only get you so much better until you plateau and your age starts to work against you. This is what happened to Fedor, pure and simple, and it was accelerated by the fact that he was in a sport that is young and cosntantly evolving. The form and training methods have increased at such a pace that a guy could dominate three years ago and, if he’s not keeping up, fall to the back of the back three years later.

  9. Zack says:

    Respectfully, this is the dumbest shit ever. I love how this guy lists Brad Morris or Denis Stojnic as “UFC Level” when all their fights in the UFC were losses. Fuck it, lets use Chief Andre Roberts and Fred Ettish at UFC level too then.

    Randleman, coming off the Cro Cop KO, and Semmy Schilt were legit top 10 HW wins at the time.

    Perfect example of some newjack nerd trying to find his place in the MMA landscape. You’ve been watching the sport for less than 5 years and have no historical context so don’t try.

    • Nepal says:

      To Zack,
      “Respectfully, this is the dumbest shit ever. I love how this guy lists Brad Morris or Denis Stojnic as “UFC Level” when all their fights in the UFC were losses. Fuck it, lets use Chief Andre Roberts and Fred Ettish at UFC level too then.”

      Actually it’s not the dumbest shit ever. It is exactly comparable to the author’s 9 year theory in terms of dumbest shit ever. It’s exactly as full of holes and misrepresentations. The arguments presented above are real and valid, the points listed in VICTORY, SILVA, the 9year theory are all flawed.

      MMA is not tennis or golf where there is week in, week out level competition and the the competition itself has earned its way to to the highest ranked level.

      We have hacks that have fluked their way into the story line that have no business being discussed (Brett Rogers).

      We are talking about guys that compete twice per year.

      The fighters are fighting guys that often are injured and can’t compete at their highest level and then are judged based on their performance.

      MMA is a new sport that is evolving so fast anything they did 3 years ago is not irrelevant but extremely less relevant than what they did in their last 4 fights.

      It is impossible to build any statistical analysis that is meaningful to anyone other than perhaps the author. Further there isn’t anyone taking these rankings seriously because there isn’t any one person actually taking the time to analyse a fighter by putting them into this one-man’s self developed system… again other than the author.

      Honestly to Zack Arnold, I have no idea why you give this type of stuff visability on Your site is great, David Williams’ (no offense intended) content is not….when it comes to fighter analysis .

  10. Zack says:

    And LOL @ Mark Hunt somehow not being “UFC Level” when he was closer to his prime in the Fedor fight, yet he’s in the UFC right now and actually has a win, unlike some of Cains “UFC Level” wins.

  11. 45 Huddle says:

    I don’t need numbers to show me that Fedor took years off fighting top competition.

    Fedor was the best of the talent pool from 2002 to 2005. That’s it. Everything else was smoke and mirrors from his management. And even then they could only hold off the inevitable for so long.

    Just like every other dominant fighter of that era…. I look at them as great for their time but the sport passed them by with a higher level of fighter from 2005 to present.

    • Zack says:

      45…who should Fedor have fought at the time of the Sylvia and AA fights?

      • nottheface says:

        Easy, instead of Tim Sylvia he should have fought the guy that beat Tim and was the #1 HW in the UFC… Big Nog. But, of course Fedor had beaten Nog twice and Randy was retired and unavailable so he got the current #2 HW in the UFC – Tim Sylvia.

        And in late October of 2008 when they booked him against Arlovski he should have been fighting a 2-1 Brock. Or a Frank Mir who was 3-2 in the last 4 years and not one of his victories was against a ranked opponent. Or maybe Cain Velasquez or Shane Carwin, neither of whom had yet to face, let alone defeat, a top 25 opponent.

        No one would be complaining about those matchups.

      • 45 Huddle says:

        Not Coleman, Choi, & Lindland….

        1) Rematch with Mirko Filipovic after Mirko won the Open Weight Grand Prix.

        2) Josh Barnett who was the runner-up of that same tournament.

        If he signed with the UFC:

        3) Tim Sylvia before he was coming off a 1-2 record.
        4) Gabriel Gonzaga after the Cro Cop KO.
        5) Fabricio Werdum was in there for 4 fights.

        The talent was out there for him to fight. And sure you can say he would have beaten those guys. But the same would have been said 2 years ago of him fighting Werdum, Silva, & Henderson.

        When he took himself out of the real level of competition for so long, he became irrelevent.

        And based on what we have seen over the last 14 months or so…. If he was given better competition time and time again…. He would have lost.

        • Zack says:

          “Not Coleman, Choi, & Lindland….”

          I knew you wouldn’t give a legitimate answer. People have every right to be down on Fedor for who he fought in 2006 & 2007 (outside of Hunt who was top 10), but he came back and fought two top 5 guys in 2008.

          Who should he have fought at the time of the Sylvia & Arlovski fights? Outside of Couture, Big Nog, or Cro Cop, those were the best two fights, and outside of Couture, those were the 2 that people wanted the most.

          Even your hero Dana White knew those were legit opponents and great wins.

          Here’s what Dana said about the Fedor vs Sylvia fight:

          ““It does (change my opinion),” he conceded. “Tim Sylvia was a real opponent.””


          Here’s what Dana had to say about Arlovski “washing out” of the UFC:

          “In nine years, there’s only one fighter that I’ve lost that I didn’t want to lose,” said UFC President Dana White. “That was (Andrei) Arlovski, and it still bothers me.”

          White tried very hard to keep Arlovski in the UFC.

          “I jumped on a plane and flew to Chicago with Lorenzo (Fertitta) and kissed his butt to try to make him not leave,” said White.


        • nottheface says:

          They offered Cro Cop and Barnett a fight with Fedor at Shockwave 2006 and both turned it down which is why he was booked against Mark Hunt – pretty much the same reason Silva fought Cote, Leite, and Maia.

          Oddly enough, besides the failed Affliction match, a Fedor/Barnett match was planned for Pride 35 before the company closed its doors. I suppose it was not meant to be.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          So you take my first sentence and then ignore the rest of my comments?

          I gave you 5 fighters named of guys he could have fought for a 2 to 3 year period that he didn’t.

          And like I said with Sylvia, he fought him after he had just gone 1-2 and was coming off a loss. A big difference between fighting him on a win streak.


          That’s the first I have heard about either of them ducking Fedor for that event.

          And even if that is true (which I doubt because it was never ever a rumor during that time)…. What is his excuse for the next 2 years?

        • nottheface says:

          Really, it remember it being pretty big news at the time mostly because I was bummed he wouldn’t be facing Cro Cop.

          I think it also launched the Barnett is ducking Fedor meme because he fought on the card.

          “As for the next two years” Really it was one year – 2007. He signed a big money fight against Jeff Monson with Bodog and ended up fighting Lindland, Pride collapsed derailing his bout with Barnett at the Staples Center, and he got a big money freak fight against the Techno Goliath in NYE. In 2008 he came back to face #5 Tim Sylvia and book a fight with #2 Arlovski. Could he have faced better competition in 2007? Easily. But I think he quickly made up for it with his Affliction schedule.

        • The Gaijin says:

          LOL – I see things have completely changed since I took a break from commenting.

          Yes – 45 those were rumours/news at the time (re. Barnett and Mirko ducking Fedor at Shockwave – Barnett in particular b/c he turned the fight down and then took the Nog rematch). And you must have a short memory or more likely are just playing the ignorant game (again) b/c we’ve discussed those same rumours/news on here a number of times – on this very same subject re. Fedor not taking a Mirko rematch or Barnett fight and fighting Hunt.

          Just read about the Fox/FX deal and came here to see if the buzz was true, only to see that this is STILL what the conversation is about. I’ll check back in a in a few months.

  12. Alan Conceicao says:

    None of those guys would have been acceptable or better opposition than he fought in Affliction. They’re either exactly the same guy or people that lost to Arlovski.

    • Alan Conceicao says:

      I guess Gonzaga didn’t lost to Arlovski, but he lost to the guy who lost to Arlovski and aside from Cro-Cop he never did anything worthwhile as a heavyweight. He is historically irrelevant.

      • Zack says:

        At the time of Fedor/Sylvia, Gonzaga had already lost to Couture, and got beat down by Werdum again.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          So he could have fought Werdum if he was in the UFC…

          We all saw how well that one went down…

      • nottheface says:

        Why fight Werdum when he was booked against the guy who beat Werdum in Arlovski?

        • 45 Huddle says:

          Why why was GSP booked to fight Alves when he had already beaten Fitch who beat him?

          Because fighting Werdum and Gonzaga is more impressive then fighting Choi and Lindland.

          It’s comical that you Fedor fanboys would even be debating this. There was legit Top 10 to Top 15 competition out there for him to fight. Instead he was fighting Middleweights and unranked fighters….

          And even when the numbers support how bad his competition is…. You guys still disagree.

          Fedor fans are nuts…

          Either way…. He was finally exposed….

        • 45 Huddle says:

          And really…. That’s what it comes down to. You can use all of the MMAMath you want…

          But Fedor Emelianeno fought Mark Coleman, Hong Man Choi, & Matt Lindland instead of fighting much better available talent out there.

          And that killed his legacy.

        • nottheface says:

          Yes, he fought substandard talent in 2007. I acknowledge that and have always acknowledged that. Yes, he could have been facing better competition than Coleman and Hunt in 2006 but you have to acknowledge that it is kind of hard when Pride is booking him against their most marketable American fighter in Coleman and the two top contenders are unwilling to face him. If we are going to disallow replacement fights than many of Anderson SIlva’s title defenses are suspect.

          Is he still the number 1 HW? No. Has been the number 1 HW for the last couple years? No. But you seem to go out of your way to prove that he has always been a fraud or at least one since 2006 and are willing to go so far as claim that neither Sylvia or Arlovski were thought of as highly legitimate competition when he faced them.

        • edub says:

          “Why why was GSP booked to fight Alves when he had already beaten Fitch who beat him?”

          Because Alves became the #2 contender after winning 7 straight fights.

          “Because fighting Werdum and Gonzaga is more impressive then fighting Choi and Lindland.”

          Yes that would be true, if Fedor didn’t fight Arlovski who beat Werdum, who in turn beat Gonzaga.

          “It’s comical that you Fedor fanboys would even be debating this. There was legit Top 10 to Top 15 competition out there for him to fight. Instead he was fighting Middleweights and unranked fighters….”

          How do you keep ignoring the fact that Barnett and Cro Cop turned down fights with him? There was better competition out there for him to fight, they just didn’t want to fight him.

          “But Fedor Emelianeno fought Mark Coleman, Hong Man Choi, & Matt Lindland instead of fighting much better available talent out there.

          And that killed his legacy.”

          No it didn’t. He is still the best HW to take part in MMA up to this point, and nothing that gets said on this site will change that. One year of fighting below par competition doesn’t kill the fact that he fought the best for 7 out of 8 straight years, and beat them all.

          Ali fighting Jimmy Young, Jean-Pierre Coopman, and Antonio Inoki in a professional wrestling match didn’t ruin his legact. Those three won’t ruin Fedor’s. No matter how hard people like you try to debate it.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      So because nobody can beat Jon Fitch, they aren’t worthy of a title shot with GSP?

      All of those guys are much better then Coleman, Choi, & Lindland as challengers.

  13. 45 Huddle says:

    UFC is going to FOX for up to 4 shows a year and their Versus/SpikeTV shows are headed to FX.

    This is a great deal if the report is true….

    • Light23 says:

      Pretty awesome that the UFC is now on a major network. The idea of it being on something like ITV in the UK is a pipe dream. The best we currently have is the occasional highlight show at 12AM on the fifth network.

      Does this signal that MMA has finally become accepted as a real sport in the states?

      • 45 Huddle says:

        I would say so. $90 Million a year for 8 years is the rumor. That’s serious sports money.

        And FX is a legit channel. Heck, it’s available in most hotel rooms that only give 25 or so channels.

        I wonder what FUEL will have. Could have weigh-ins and unleashed sort of stuff. I just hope it doesn’t have anything that important. It’s a 2nd tier TV channel that is would just increase my cable bill at this point….

        This also means Bellator is going to SpikeTV. But like TNA, I can’t imagine it will gain much traction. TNA never got the WWE fans to care.

        • edub says:

          Just absolutely phenomenal news.

          Gotta wonder who Fox Sports is going to use for anchors, and if they’ll take a page out of Versus book and do pre-fight and post-fight shows. I hope they do.

          Hopefully Gruden gets into MMA!

        • nottheface says:

          For comparison: the WWE gets $70 million a year from both their channels, HBO boxing’s budget was $70 million a year a couple years ago, the NHL signed a 10-year $2 bil deal.

          If the $90 million a year is true it means they should have enough money to make it worthwhile to put together some great CBS cards. Also, hopefully we’ll get stuff like JDS vs Carwin on CBS instead of PPV where they can really promote a #1 contender to the masses.

        • Steve4192 says:

          “I wonder what FUEL will have”

          FUEL will probably get the repeats of all the canned shows. I doubt FX is going to be running six-hour blocks of old TUF & Unleashed episodes like Spike has be known to do. I suspect FX will get the first run of all TUF/Countdown/Primetime/Unleashed/BestofPride content and then FUEL will use the repeat showings as filler for their woefully thin programming schedule. I doubt FUEL will get any original content or live events.

      • Light23 says:

        Apparently they were getting $35mil/year from Spike, so $90mil is a big increase.

        Realistically they could afford to put on a proper PPV card – a 500k buy show nets them $15mil (60% of 25mil). Cain Velasquez and the BW/FW title fights would be good choices to show on FOX since these guys would draw that amount or less.

  14. edub says:

    A few things that are throwing people off, is letting this discussion go in a bad direction. 2 out 3 of the trio Brad Morris, Jake O’Brien, and Dennis Stojnic are UFC quality. But Ricardo Arona, Mark Hunt, and Kevin Randleman weren’t?

    But I think a lot of people are looking past your conclusion.

    “Greatness” is a subjective term, and everybody is going to have a different idea of what greatness in MMA truly is. I understand that the approach I’ve outlined is just one way to answer the question of whether or not Fedor Emelianenko is the greatest heavyweight fighter of all time. For me, it’s an emphatic answer, one that should put to rest the notion that Emelianenko wasn’t ever all that good, or anything like Kimbo Slice in any way. Don’t get me wrong, I think that a guy like Cain Velasquez or Junior dos Santos could take the mantle from Emelianenko with a few more key wins. But as of right now, as far as I see it, Emelianenko is the best heavyweight ever.”

  15. 45 Huddle says:

    I wonder if TUF will still be used on FX. I just don’t see that happening. At least not the current version.

    2000 to 2005 = The Pride Era

    2005 to 2011 = The TUF Era

    2012 and Beyond = ???

    This is a huge step for the sport. A 1st rate channel for regular shows. A legit broadcast deal as an additional option.

    The UFC just needs to bring in Flyweight and get rid of TRT….

  16. Alan Conceicao says:

    Unless Fox has control over matchmaking and the UFC cuts back on the number of PPVs next year, I’m not sure this matters. I know everyone is excited about the $90 million a year and is imagining that the UFC is getting $15 million per show on Fox, but the numbers seem pretty off to me for a product generating 1.3s on Spike and 750K viewers on Versus. It sounds to me like the contract is either back loaded (so that the UFC would get a huge payout if it makes it to the last 2-3 years of the contract) or that it has a bunch of performance bonuses involved where they could theoretically make 90 million in a year depending on how ratings go or how ads are bought.

    • 45 Huddle says:

      So you think in a current market that is giving out huge money for sports properties…. And with multiple potential cable stations in the running…. That Zuffa would sign anything but a guaranteed money and time contract?

      • Alan Conceicao says:

        Depends on what portion is guaranteed. I don’t think they’re worth nearly as much as some imagine they are though. Fox is not going to commit $800 million dollars guaranteed to something where the ratings for the first show might not even be as good as Kimbo on CBS.

        • 45 Huddle says:

          $800 Million over 9 years with programs on 3 channels including potentially pre and post shows…. And many hours of programming. And based on the money being handed out for sports these days.

          Look…. The TV executives are scared of losing revenue to the Internet. The one thing that hasn’t made the transition online yet it sports. And combine that with the fact the live sports are watched live more then any other program….. And that’s exactly why sports programming is getting such obnoxious deals.

          Do I think Zuffa is worth that much? No. Do I think they got close to that much guaranteed? Yes.

        • Alan Conceicao says:

          The numbers being thrown around before this for contracts with NBC and the like were nowhere near this sum either before they broke down. I call shenanigans on the figure being all “guaranteed”. It isn’t like anyone will push hard to investigate it for a day or two or ever anyways.

        • Jason Harris says:

          Getting a bit less than half of what NHL gets and a bit more than WWE sounds about right to me, as far as their place in the market and popularity.

        • Alan Conceicao says:

          The WWE would get cancelled if its shows were pulling UFC numbers. And they provide weekly television 52 weeks a year.

  17. Jason Harris says:

    I posted this recently at another site but I’ll repost it here because it applies. I used the historical rankings from FightMetric, which are a lot of fun to play with. The thing to remember is heavyweight even in the PRIDE days was paper thin, and a lot of guys shot into the top 10 with 1 high profile win (Randleman over CroCop, Rogers over Arlovski)

    Fedor fought Tim Sylvia on 7/19/2008
    Rankings for 7/6/2008 shows Sylvia at #9 (and besides Barnett and Arlovski, the highest ranked HW not in UFC)

    On 1/24/2009 he fought Andrei Arlovski, who was coming off of 5 straight wins including Werdum, Roy Nelson and Ben Rothwell. As of 1/04/2009 Arlovski was ranked #5 and the highest ranked HW not in UFC

    On 11/7/2009 he fought Brett Rogers. Probably one of the most questionable opponents, Rogers had rocketed into the top 10 by KOing Arlovski, who was highly ranked. Beat a guy in the top 10, suddenly you’re top 10. That’s how it works, look at Brock Lesnar. Rogers was ranked #7 when he fought Fedor, which he took from Arlovski who was ranked #7 when Rogers knocked him out:

    At the time of the Werdum fight on 6/26/2010, Werdum was ranked #10 in the world. Admittedly, Barnett was a better fight, but his stench of ruining Affliction hadn’t fallen off so nobody wanted to touch him yet:

    I’ll give Fedor shit all day for fighting guys like Zulu, Hong Man Choi, or Matt Lindland, but let’s not get revisionist and pretend the top 10 guys he’s fought weren’t top 10 at the time of the fight.

    • Jason Harris says:

      Part 2, the PRIDE fights:
      Date – Fighter – Ranking
      12/31/2006 – Mark Hunt – #7 HW
      10/21/2006 – Mark Coleman – #4 HW (I think a lot of this was due to the fluke Shogun win)
      I won’t even bother looking up that bullshit Zulu fight
      8/28/2005 – Mirko Filipovic – #4 HW
      TK was obviously a gift fight for Fedor
      12/31/2004 – Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira – #1 HW (despite having had lost to Fedor, he had more accomplishments overall I guess)
      Ogawa was a bullshit freakshow, but that’s more PRIDE’s fault than Fedor’s, this was before he started being picky
      6/20/2004 – Kevin Randleman – Odd because he was unranked for inactivity on the list before the fight, but then knocked out the #5 ranked CroCop immediately prior to the Fedor fight
      4/25/2004 – Mark Coleman – #10 HW
      Nagata was another bullshit freakshow fight
      8/10/2003 – Gary Goodridge – #11 HW
      6/8/2003 – Kazayuki Fujita – #35 HW <- funny enough Fujita came damned close to knocking Fedor out
      Some bullshit Rings Lithuania fight?
      3/16/2003 – Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira – #1 HW
      11/24/2002 – Heath Herring – #11 HW
      6/23/2002 – Semmy Schilt – #4 HW

      Everything before that was in RINGS, and I can’t be bothered to look those guys up.

      My point with all of this is, it’s easy to get revisionist and look back at these guys seeing them now and say they suck, but it’s important to recognize accomplishments in the context of when they happened. Yeah, beating CroCop doesn’t mean shit in 2011, but in 2008 it meant a lot more.

      • Jonathan Snowden says:

        I like how you categorize any of the fights that actually made the promotion money as “bullshit.”

        • Jason Harris says:

          Sup Trollden. I understand that in Japan there was money to be made in silly exhibition matches where famous guys with no business being in the ring got beat up by guys who were good at MMA. I was looking at the fighters from a sporting context, as I follow MMA as a sport and I am not an accountant for PRIDE or K-1. I’m sure it made a lot of money for Floyd Mayweather to appear in WWE. I don’t think it relates to analysis of his fighting career.

          If you’d like to go ahead and look up approximately where those fighters were ranked, feel free. Something tells me that’s a bit too much for your normal “post a flippant 1 sentence response” level of research and quality though.

        • Nottheface says:

          One thing I don’t see people considering when they bring up his”bullshit fights” is did they actually effect the level of competition he faced in comparison to his compatriots.
          During his Pride run between the Summer of 2002 and the end of 2006, he had 17 fights going 16-0-1. 8 times his opponent was ranked in the 10 topof HW and 1 time in the top 10 for LHWs. In comparison during this same time span:
          – Tim Sylvia, who entered the UFC at roughly the same date, had 12 fights,going 10-2 and 5-2 against top 10 opposition.
          – Andre Arlovski had 10 fights during this time frame going 7-3 and 3-3 against ranked opponents.
          – Frank Mir had 8 fights , going 5-3 with win against the only top 10 fighter he faced.

        • Jason Harris says:

          I think where guys like Sylvia and Arlovski falter when determining who’s the “best” of the era, is they tended to win a title, defend 1-2x and then lose…they both regained and lost and were kind of streaky, as opposed to an undefeated streak. While Fedor’s record did have filler, he still faced more top ranked guys than his opponents. I think this was your point as well, if so, I’m agreeing.

        • Alan Conceicao says:

          The present light heavyweight division has had, among all the champs since Liddell, only guys who could make 1 defense at most, then dropped the belt. Does that mean that whoever usurps Jon Jones a few years (or less?) down the line as the best 205lb fighter will have proven that he was a fraud with no real historical standing? It isn’t like pure numbers will show Matyushenko to be as legit dangerous as he is, nor will they show Ryan Bader, Matt Hammill, or Brandon Vera to mean a damn thing. Vera is already the Randleman of our generation.

        • Jason Harris says:

          Alan, not at all. While I personally would never like to see him fight again, I think his unpopularity has resulted in Tim Sylvia being incredibly underrated as a fighter. He is (well, more like was) a legit threat to anyone in the top 10 and a very tough opponent. Just when trying to pick a king to crown of a certain era (especially one where guys weren’t fighting each other) the revolving door effect knocks him down a notch below, say, a Fedor. I am by no means calling these guys frauds or saying they have no standing, in fact the point of my original post was to remember that at the time these fights happened, they had a lot more meaning. We can’t judge 2004’s fights on how the guys fought in 2010.

        • Jonathan Snowden says:


          I don’t think your “historical” rankings used here mean much at all because Fight Matrix is awfully wonky. I don’t intend to sift through them and don’t think it’s really necessary.

          By the way “Trollden?” You’re better than that aren’t you? We’ve got a saying back home that if you’re coming on…come on!

        • Jason Harris says:

          Yet again, inflammatory with no real content. Pretty much sums up most of what you write. Feel free to drop some “I know because seriously guys, I have connections, but I can’t tell you” or perhaps a “I know for a fact I’m right but I can’t tell you guys why because it’s a BIG secret, because remember, I have secret connections because I’m very important to MMA”

          If you disagreed with some of the meat of my post, by all means post an actual rebuttal. Otherwise, continue being the guy who knows lots of people from the pre-2000 era and is a grumpy, irrelevant troll for pagehits in the modern MMA era desperately clinging on to having some inside access to Lion’s Den fighters.

  18. another great piece, david! … love fight opinion, zach!

  19. billybob says:

    Ok, there is a major, major flaw here:

    “A UFC Fighter” is total 100% MYTH. Ooooo, you stepped in the OCTAGON, its immediatley 110% more eXtreeeeeeeeeeme!!!

    And then, you admitidly used an arbitrary number to define this.

    Stop listening to promoters! That is all Dana White is and ever will be.

  20. bundt says:

    So we’re seriously at the point where an article discussing a fighters career being completely devoid of mentioning the contents of any of the fights is not satire.

  21. bundt says:

    When you’re discussing why Fedor’s win over Arona isn’t that impressive, I would think the first place you would go would be that Fedor spent the majority of the match mounted, and RINGS rules prevented Arona from ground and pounding him. Maybe I’m way off base here. Maybe it makes more sense to disregard anything that happened.

  22. […] A Detailed Statistical Breakdown of Fedor Emelianenko’s Career Thus Far ( […]

  23. […] A statistical look at Fedor Emelianenko’s place in MMA history – Fight Opinion […]

  24. texas27 says:

    Fedor was 7-0 vs former UFC heavyweight champions i don’t understand this argument, so if a guy wins the UFC heavyweight title then fights in another org. it doesn’t count? so the ufc ring makes anyone who steps into it a monster, but theyre a wimp when they leave, that means the UFC cheats, they inject super steriods into there fighters though the mat of the octogon.

    also UFC only reps american fighters, PRIDE had all countries on the planet represented. Rampage Jackson said that PRIDE was a tougher organisation where the fighters don’t even drink cuz they rep there country. UFC are image oriented partiers. also rampage got beat down in PRIDE alot and dominated in UFC,

    final point anderson silva could not beat sammy shilts today in a fight or hong man choi, he fights cans, only good wins were against hendo and vitor, name someone else good he has fought or someone anyone has even heard of.


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