In 2009, Fedor Emelianenko had fought in numerous organizations and was widely recognized as the best heavyweight fighter in the world. Fedor had fought in Rings, BodogFight, M-1 Global, and Affliction, but had his best years while he was with Pride Fighting Championships. Fedor held the Pride Fighting Championship from 2003 until the company shut down in 2007, won the 2004 Heavyweight World Grand Prix Championship, and his fight with Mirko Cro Cop in 2005 was named Fight of the Year and Fight of the Decade. He was one of the most feared and respected fighters in the world.
Fedor was fighting in Affliction at the time of its collapse, which caused him to become a free agent. At that same time, Brock Lesnar was taking the UFC Heavyweight Division by storm. Fedor vs. Brock was a dream matchup that fans around the world wanted to see. And Dana White wanted to please them. White tried repeatedly to sign Fedor to an exclusive UFC contract. “He has become my obsession,” White said. “I want it (him in the UFC) worse than the fans want it.”
White wanted Fedor to come in and immediately challenge Lesnar for the UFC Heavyweight Championship and reportedly offered Fedor a contract worth just under 2 million U.S. dollars per fight. The biggest obstacle was Fedor’s management team, which demanded a co-promotion between UFC and M-1 Global. White deemed that unacceptable and negotiations fell apart. Fedor soon signed with Strikeforce.
But, how would have Fedor’s UFC run gone if he signed the contract? We all remember his shocking three fight losing streak in Strikeforce, but would that have been the same for his UFC run?
(For the purpose of this article, we will assume Brock Lesnar was not battling diverticulitis.)
I would imagine that Fedor would have missed UFC 100 where Brock defeated Frank Mir. So, Fedor and Brock is the next Heavyweight Championship fight. UFC 108 would have been a great landing spot for this fight. It would be the first event of 2010 and set the bar high for the year and it would be in the fight capitol of the world, Las Vegas. I think it would have been a competitive fight and mostly on the ground. Fedor would attempt several submission attempts until Brock finally countered one, got on top, and grounded and pounded for the win. There it is, Fedor’s first loss in almost ten years.
To me, the next logical move for the organization would be to use Fedor’s drawing power and make dream matchups to bring in fans and revenue. Next up, Randy “The Natural” Couture. This seems a little far-fetched, but is it really? At that time, Couture had fought Nogueira, Brandon Vera, and Mark Coleman. UFC 115 would have been a great spot. Couture would use dirty boxing against the cage until Fedor took him down. Submission victory for Fedor. His first UFC win.
UFC 125 went through a lot of changes, but ended with Frankie Edgar and Gray Maynard as the main event. Here’s the new co-Main Event: Fedor Emelianenko vs. Frank Mir. Mir is coming off of a brutal knockout win against Mirko Cro Cop and looks amazing. After a back and forth ground battle between the two, it’s a toss-up, but I lean towards Frank Mir.
Fedor announces that this will be his last fight in the UFC. UFC 133 is the landing spot. His opponent? A rematch of his Fight of the Decade against Mirko Cro Cop who was in the middle of a two fight losing streak. Cro Cop tries to send Fedor to the hospital until Fedor gets it to the ground, stopping the fight by TKO. Fedor brings his UFC record to 2-2.
What a ride this would have been for Fedor and for fight fans in general. Seeing one of the greatest heavyweights of all time in the Octagon was a dream for many fighters and fans alike. Of course, we saw some cool fights during his time in Strikeforce, but who didn’t want to hear Bruce Buffer saying The Last Emperor?
This is a new Specialist column by Nate Nasworthy where he will examine a “What if?” scenario that could have changed the course of MMA or given fans a dream match or matches had history taken a different course.