Not the Best Right Now, But the Best Ever
The problem Emelianenko faces is the problem that plagues society as a whole today. People are never satisfied, while passing years and popular opinion are changing the accomplishments of Emelianenko into a “what have you done for me lately?” scenario that is ridiculous and impossible for anyone to live up to.
Michael Jordan played two miserable seasons with the Washington Wizards where he wasn’t the Michael Jordan of old, but no one is suddenly questioning his place among the greatest basketball players of all-time? No one was asking “His Airness” to go one-on-one with Kobe Bryant or Allen Iverson, and his incredible stretch of dominance wasn’t downplayed because his contemporaries had already called it quits.
We don’t question Walter Payton’s greatness or diminish the accomplishments of Barry Sanders because they played in a time when the defences they ran through didn’t feature the same kind of specimens as the game features now. Both were the best of their time and two of the greatest ever, and neither was asked to constantly prove that against an evolving collection of competitors or compared unfavorably against younger, faster, stronger backs that followed in their footsteps.
While fighters like Silva and St-Pierre – and perhaps others – have overtaken Emelianenko in today’s pound-for-pound rankings, what he has accomplished in totality trumps the achievements of anyone else to have graced this great sport.
Fedor shouldn’t be asked to run the gauntlet of heavyweight contenders today to secure his legacy; what he has done in his ten years in the sport is more than enough to place him in the pantheon of all-time greats. He’s done more than Brock Lesnar and Shane Carwin will ever do, and doing it outside of the UFC doesn’t lessen those feats.
Judging Emelianenko solely on what he’s done in the last three years is unrealistic; it’s like denying Wayne Gretzky his place as one of the greatest hockey players of all-time because his didn’t lead the league in scoring each of his final three seasons. All the dominant years before that secure “The Great One” a place amongst the stars, and the same should apply to Emelianenko.
But there is no convincing some people.
Ten years of unrivaled success is not enough.
The fighters he dominated aren’t the dominant names of today, and all that matters is the here and now. Who cares that he beat a who’s who of heavyweight icons; he never beat Brock Lesnar, Shane Carwin, or Alistair Overeeem, three heavyweights who don’t have the combined conquests to match Emelianenko.
By the same logic, Ted Williams wasn’t the best hitter to ever step into the batter’s box because he never sent a Tim Lincecum fastball into the right field stands, The Godfather isn’t the best movie ever because it didn’t make nearly as much money as Avatar, and The Beatles were good, but they don’t hold a candle to Britney Spears.
Fedor Emelianenko is the best fighter in mixed martial arts history.
Whether you choose to accept that is up to you.
Get ready for the fights tonight. Go to our Strikeforce video channel and watch interviews and fight highlights for all the fighters on the card.