There is perhaps no better time to get to know the best heavyweight fighter MMA has ever seen than right now, on the eve of his bout with Fabricio Werdum.
Fedor Emelianenko is, in many ways, the perfect fighter. He is skilled in striking, wrestling and submissions as well as blessed with natural speed and shocking power in his hands. At a time when most of the best heavyweights in the world were fighting for the Japanese PRIDE promotion Fedor was there dominating them all. Now, he remains at the top of the heap even without competing in the UFC, where the true competition is.
Let's take a look around the Internet to find everything you need to see to be fully up to speed on Saturday's Strikeforce clash.
MMA Fighting brings us video of the pre-fight media workouts and some brief interviews:
Tomas Rios of Sherdog points out that Werdum's fatal flaws will not be overlooked by Fedor:
In his bout with Antonio Silva, Werdum’s habit of dropping his hands in exchanges and telegraphing leg kicks remained uncorrected, and that won’t make it past Emelianenko’s watchful eyes. That is really what separates these two and generally separates Emelianenko from other fighters: the ability to quickly perceive weaknesses and capitalize on them. Such a massive difference in fight IQ leaves Werdum hoping to make a paint-by-numbers approach work against an opponent who will see it coming from the opening bell.
Given Emelianenko’s recent flair for the violently dramatic, it’s a safe bet to assume Werdum will look every bit the worthy adversary Strikeforce is billing himself as. That optical illusion can only last so long, and once Emelianenko finds his rhythm, he will shatter any hope Werdum had of winning. The dream-smasher comes in the form of yet another stiff-starch overhand right knockout.
Watch Kalib Run's Zak Woods points out "The Frustrating Thing About Fedor":
The sad truth is that the two aren't mutually exclusive but rather irrevocably connected. The legendary status that Fedor achieved is in part due to his management and their constant promotional hamstringing which helped preserve his impressive undefeated streak. Fans forget that M-1 was just as much of a thorn in the side of Pride as they are now in Strikeforce and the UFC.
Simply put, M-1 and Fedor exist almost as a good cop, bad cop, symbiosis. A mixture of honorable warrior and slimy back door salesman and it's frustrating as hell.
MMA Mania brings down my high with a sad prediction for the fight:
I hate to say it, but this fight is going to be a snorer. Werdum isn't going to want to engage on his feet and he's not going to have any success getting this fight to the ground where he can use his jiu-jitsu, either. And even if he did, Fedor's submission skills are arguably as good as his anyway.
Werdum is going to play keep away, so I think this thing goes the full fifteen minutes. But Fedor isn't going to lose.
Have no fear though, Luke Thomas of Bloody Elbow to the rescue:
As I mentioned post Fedor vs. Rogers, part of what makes the career of Emelianenko so distinguished is not just that he's beaten everyone he's ever faced, but done so even after being placed in very precarious situations. Part of the enjoyment of watching Fedor isn't just demolition, but the swing of momentum or reversal of fortune he is able to create.
And that's how I see Saturday's fight. I do expect Werdum to look significantly improved since his lightspeed drubbing at the hands of Junior dos Santos. Candidly, I do expect him to put Fedor in an eyebrow-raising moment or two. But if history is any indication, that means Werdum is creating an opportunity for Fedor to collect himself, turn the tide, ride that momentum and deliver a spectacular finish (or at a minimum, an enjoyable round).
Whatever the truth of how the fight goes down, we're in the final stages of the career of one of the best fighters any of us have ever seen.
SB Nation will have much more on the Strikeforce event, including weigh-in data and live results from the fight.