This Saturday night, “the pound for pound best fighter in the world” Fedor Emelianenko (30-1, 1 no contest) will make his US national television debut as Strikeforce/M-1 Global presents: Fedor vs. Rogers on CBS. Fedor Emelianenko is the consensus top heavyweight fighter in the world and is set to face Brett Rogers, an undefeated up-and-coming star. They are both coming off crushing knockouts of former UFC Heavyweight Champion, Andrei Arlovski. Brett Rogers will likely want to stand and throw bombs with the Russian champ and the Sambo master will likely be happy to oblige. Rogers has one punch knockout power but the difference will be Fedor’s unmatched all-around skill. Fedor can stand and trade or use his judo/sambo mastery to put Rogers on his back, where he has excellent submissions. If Emelianenko decides to take Rogers to the ground, Rogers will also have to ward off a ground and pound expert. Rogers has never had to fight off the ground and it may be interesting to see if his size will present some issues for the champ. While Rogers will be looking for one big shot, Emelianenko should be able to put his full arsenal to use to defeat the much larger challenger. Barring a shocker larger than Kimbo Slice’s epic loss, Fedor should walk out the champ.
However, can he still be considered the best in the world? Emelianenko has won 26 straight fights in a 9 year period but has not faced the steady diet of top tier competition one would expect from the best. The former Pride World Heavyweight Champion last fought with Affliction and fought Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski, two former UFC Heavyweight Champions. He submitted Sylvia in under a minute and survived a match up with Arlovski, who landed punches and kicks at will. As Fedor backed into the ropes, seemingly in trouble, Arlovski went in for a flying knee. Instead he ate an overhand right punch to the jaw, which sent Arlovski falling into the fetal position in midair at 3:14 in the first round. After the now defunct Affliction promotion went under, many insiders believed Fedor would undoubtedly appear in the “Octagon” but it was not to be. In a decision that left the MMA world in disbelief, Fedor decided to join the Strikeforce lineup, signing a 3-fight contract. The move would immediately beef up its thin heavyweight division and bring added credibility to Strikeforce. His decision left the world wondering whether he will ever sign with the UFC. The burning question: How can a man, considered to be the best in the world, fight inferior competition, still be considered the best in the world? College football teams beating up on smaller conference teams will not get the same respect another team that plays the best every week will. The same should hold true for MMA. If you want to be considered the best, you should have to beat the best.