Looking at the Fedor Emelianenko, M-1 Global Mess
Written by Niles Schumer-Plourde for MMANEWS.com
MMA fans around the world have spent much of the last year closely watching and anticipating the career moves of Fedor Emelianenko, since the buyout of Pride FC by Zuffa in March of 2007. While Fedor’s awe-inspiring performances in Pride were enough to earn him the organization’s heavyweight title, which never left his waist during a 4-year reign as champion, the world-class fighter is currently facing some harsh criticism from the MMA community. Even after returning to the ring under the newly-formed M-1 Global, many fight fans were extremely disappointed to see the world’s number one fighter anywhere except the UFC. While die-hard fans remained optimistic throughout the negotiations with M-1, hoping that the organization’s apparent deep pockets would be enough to bring in a challenging and worthwhile opponent for Fedor, their blind faith was answered with a slap in the face when M-1 announced that Fedor would fight Hong Man Choi at the organization’s 2007 New Year’s Eve debut event. Although Choi’s sheer size makes him a formidable opponent for any fighter, (standing 7’2″, and tilting the scales at just over 350 pounds), his relative inexperience in MMA had many fans shaking their heads in disbelief. With a professional kickboxing record of 12-4, Choi is certainly no stranger to the ring, but with only one prior MMA fight under his belt, he was in no way the most qualified opponent for Fedor.
New Year’s Eve has now come and gone, and the memory of Fedor’s textbook armbar on the massive Hong Man Choi, while impressive, still leaves most people wondering when Fedor might actually see some legitimate competition. Many MMA news sources have removed Fedor from the number one spot he held for so long on their top-ten pound-for-pound rankings, and embittered fans across the board are beginning to question an organization which has yet to introduce any top-ten heavyweights suitable to fight Fedor and actually pose a challenge. Where Fedor was once regarded as an unstoppable superhuman force, he now faces overwhelming criticism from all directions, with many people only interested in seeing him finally step into the ring with the now-defunct UFC heavyweight champion, Randy Couture. However, with Couture’s current contract disputes ongoing with the UFC brass, it is not likely that “Captain America” will be released as a free agent anytime soon, leaving other heavyweight fighters such as Josh Barnett and Mark Hunt as the most suitable opponents on the market for Fedor.
The stage is now set for M-1 Global to step-up to the plate and give the people what they want, but recent reports circulating on the internet seem to reveal that the organization is moving in a different direction. With its' next event rumored to take place in the U.S. this April, one would assume that any news of M-1 securing top heavyweight talent for the event would be a sure sign that Fedor may soon face a legitimate threat. However, according to the website of Fedor’s younger brother, and fellow Pride FC veteran Aleksander Emelianenko, Josh Barnett is actually expected to participate in the upcoming April fight card, but will not face off against Fedor. Instead, “The Baby Face Assassin” is rumored to be fighting Aleksander, himself, while Fedor will apparently meet Semmy Schilt, for the first time since overcoming the lumbering Dutchman in a unanimous decision at Pride 21, back in 2002. Although Schilt is the current three-time K-1 World Grand Prix champion, and boasts quite an extensive venture into MMA, with a winning record of 25-14-1, a Fedor-Schilt rematch is hardly what fans have been asking for, and will undoubtedly add fuel to the fire that is the growing criticism of Fedor and M-1. It is now time for M-1 to fulfill the obligations that come with boasting the world’s number one fighter — put him in the ring with other top competition. A failure by M-1 to rekindle Fedor’s former greatness would be an unforgivable blow to the world of MMA, and the organization seems to be ignoring its' greatest potential for becoming a force to reckoned with in this infinitely-expanding sport. Put simply, M-1 Global must put-up or shut-up; the time has come to put their cards on the table, so who hesitates with an ace in the hole?