01-22-2009, 01:10 PM
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| | Kevin Iole Article - "The Fedor Factor"
One of the hazards of writing about mixed martial arts for a living is what I’ll call “The Fedor Factor.” |
Write a few glowing words about, say, a lightweight who has great striking and superb jiu-jitsu, and you’ll be buried under an avalanche of e-mail about Fedor.
“Fedor’s better,” they’ll write. “You’re a fool that you don’t recognize it.”
Compose a couple of lines about a young heavyweight with promise and the responses will be so quick and so voluminous that it will all but shut down e-mail servers around the world.
“Fedor would destroy him,” they’ll say.
And suggest that another fighter may deserve to be ranked No. 1 pound-for-pound in the world and the invectives won’t stop for days, if not weeks.
“Fedor” is Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko, who has kind of become like Sidd Finch, the mythical baseball player created by George Plimpton in a famous 1985 April Fool’s Day hoax in Sports Illustrated, who reportedly threw 169 miles per hour.
Fedor’s chief antagonist is Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White, who frequently rebukes Emelianenko, pokes fun at the quality of his opposition and suggests Emelianenko is content being a big fish in a very small pond.
White is a promoter who has his own product to sell. And like a car salesman who doesn’t want to admit a competitor’s product is better, White won’t even grudgingly concede Emelianenko deserves a place among the game’s elite.
Emelianenko will fight his second former UFC heavyweight champion in as many outings when, on Saturday in Affliction Entertainment’s “Day of Reckoning” show at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif., he’ll face popular Andrei Arlovski.
But while White won’t make the keyboard warriors happy and annoint Emelianenko, several men who are under contract to White have no problem doing so.
UFC light heavyweight Dan Henderson, who fought in the PRIDE Fighting Championship when Emelianenko was building his legend, said neither UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar nor interim champion Frank Mir, could compare to Emelianenko.
“He’s tough to beat for anybody and right now, he should be ranked the top guy in the world,” Henderson said. “He’d probably beat the (heck) out of both guys. He probably beat up both guys pretty badly.”
Another UFC light heavyweight, Hall of Fame member Mark Coleman, has fought Emelianenko twice. He was submitted via arm bar, in 2004 and in 2006, when both were in PRIDE.
Coleman, like Henderson, has heard White’s disdainful take on Emelianenko, but Coleman said Emelianenko is clearly the world’s top heavyweight.
As heavyweights in MMA become bigger, Coleman said the 230-pound Emelianenko might eventually have problems, but pointed out that Emelianenko has handled all the big men he’s fought so far without problems.
Ex-UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia is 6 feet, 8 inches tall and weighs the divisional limit of 265 pounds, but Emelianenko needed only 36 seconds to submit him in the first round in the main event of Affliction’s first show in July.
“He’s so well-rounded, but I think his mind is a big part of his success,” Coleman said. “His mind is probably one of the strongest minds in the game. He fights differently than other people. His punches come from all different directions and you have no clue where they’re coming from. His hips are great. He’s the complete package.
“The only thing I’d worry about for him is that he’s 6-foot, 230. Is he going to be able to deal with a 6-4, 265 guy? That’s a potential hazard.”
Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, who stopped Coleman in the co-main event at UFC 93 in Dublin, Ireland, agreed with his rival that Emelianenko’s mental state is a large part of his success in the cage.
Though Emelianenko denies it, someone who saw him in his dressing room prior to his fight with Sylvia said Emelianenko was so serene that he was quietly sitting at a table in his locker room playing cards only moments before he was to make the walk to the ring.
“He has a unique mindset, because he’s a very calm, very tranquil fighter,” said Rua, a former PRIDE fighter who got to share many fight cards with Emelianenko. “He’s very relaxed and just does his job. He never panics. That’s a huge difference between him and other fighters.”
Emelianenko acknowledged his mental capacity during a recent teleconference, but said he was able to develop that calm over time.
The placid demeanor he carries into the ring seems to have an eerie effect upon his opponents. Many fighters grunt and growl and use a lot of kinetic energy as they’re in the ring or the cage awaiting the start of a fight. Emelianenko, though, stares impassively ahead until the bell rings, at which point he erupts.
“It’s something that comes with time,” Emelianenko said of his demeanor. “For me, it’s part of the training process. When I’m in training camp, one of the things that I work on very much is controlling my emotions. Earlier in my career I worried a lot more and then I got a lot more nervous and the emotions were much less controllable.
“And there wasn’t any particular fight or any particular moment when I got more control over it. It was a step-by-step process throughout my career where every time I train for another fight and every time I go through certain things, I put more emphasis on that as part of the training process.”
There aren’t, though, many Zen masters who hold MMA championships. Emelianenko’s mind is part of what separates him from the pack, but his physical skills are what really make him special.
He’s exceptionally quick for his size and he has the ability to hit hard from many angles, Henderson said. Henderson also raved about Emelianenko’s conditioning.
And while Coleman wouldn’t dismiss Arlovski and declined to say the Belarussian has no chance to win on Saturday, at the same time you shouldn’t expect to find Coleman at a sports book in Las Vegas plopping money down against Emelianenko.
“This is MMA and you never say someone has no chance, but this guy is as close to unbeatable as there is in this sport right now,” Coleman said of Emelianenko. “He’s an amazing athlete and an exceptional fighter. He’s everything they say and more.”
Source: Friends, foes explain Fedor phenomenon - MMA - Yahoo! Sports
Last edited by BananaClipper; 01-22-2009 at 01:14 PM.
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