I’ll admit it, I think a lot about Fedor Emelianenko. I wonder about whether he’s a cyborg, whether he truly could be, as the T-shirt I have claims, “The Russian Last Emperor.” I wonder if he has ever accidentally killed any of his children while spanking them for making eye contact with him. A large portion of my days are spent this way.
For those unfamiliar with Fedor’s work (he goes by the first name for two reasons: 1) when he fought in Japan they had trouble pronouncing his last name, and 2) he has an evil younger brother who’s also a fighter, but we’ll get to him later), let me sum it up by telling you that he is damn near unbeatable at this point in his life.
That’s not true, I guess. He did lose once. Seven years ago. Because of a cut. And then he later demolished the man who cut him. Along with everyone else in the loaded heavyweight division of Pride Fighting Championships. You see my point.
What really interests me about Fedor is the cult status he enjoys among MMA fans. He’s not a particularly big or intimidating looking guy. He’s around six feet tall, 230 lbs., and he looks like a pretty nice guy, though not very athletic. Even his body, which is a machine that dispenses pain upon others in exchange for money, seems unremarkable.
He never appears to get very excited about fighting. He almost looks bored most of the time. And yet he is regarded as the greatest fighter in the modern history of the sport.
While I realize this is wrong, I have to chalk some of it up to being Russian. It just seems like the same man, were he born and raised in America, would have become soft or corrupted by now.
It’s like the Epic of Gilgamesh. When he encounters Enkidu, the wild man who lives apart from civilization, he finds he cannot defeat him. Enkidu has a strength beyond strength. So what does Gilgamesh do? He introduces Enkidu to some hookers, corrupts him, and thus saps his strength. Then they become friends and kill a giant ram together or something, I don’t really remember.
This theory is only bolstered by the career path of Fedor’s brother, Aleksander. Now he’s a little scarier. He’s bigger (6’6″), plus he has a huge tattoo of death holding a baby on his back, and it says “Gott Mit Uns” across it. Honestly, if Cain and Abel were both fighters, which one do you think would have the tattoo of death holding the baby? I’m just saying.
Also, rumors have circulated that Aleks is involved with some organized crime types in Russia, and that he’s no longer training with Fedor’s Red Devil Fight Team. Around the same time that these rumors started, Aleks started dropping fights. He got KO’d by “Cro Cop”, then submitted by Josh Barnett and Fabricio Werdum. And why? Because he lost the strength that comes with innocence. And because he’s not a very good grappler.
Witness Fedor, smiling like a happy baby while he sits ringside at fights, sketching unicorns for his website (seriously), failing to let the UFC and other organizations tempt him away from mother Russia with their piles of cash and slutty ring girls.
Why won’t Fedor sign exclusively with the UFC? Because he wants to be allowed to compete in Russian Sambo tournaments and possibly other MMA events back home. He doesn’t want to abandon his Russian fans, in other words. That’s like Kobe Bryant refusing to sign with the Lakers because he wants to be allowed to play pick-up games with old friends from the neighborhood.
But maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with being Russian so much as having a certain personality type. Aleks was lured away, after all. Now I assume he hangs out in discotheques with gangsters, constantly asking if he can hold their guns and pretend to shoot at people. Meanwhile Fedor trains in the woods somewhere, hitting a tire with a sledgehammer over and over again, enjoying the hell out of himself, and dreaming of eating two ice cream cones at once when it’s all over.
Some part of me hopes Fedor never signs with the UFC. Some part of me hopes he becomes best friends with Vladimir Putin and, through his own death and sacrifice, teaches the Russian despot something about friendship and compassion.
But the rest of me would really like to see him fight Randy Couture for the UFC heavyweight title. And that’s the side that usually wins.