Since the beginning of MMA there have been many standout super stars. There is always that handful of fighters, regardless of organization or era, that we find ourselves clinging to over the rest of the competition.
Some go on unbelievable winning streaks spanning literally over years. Some have wars that regardless if they win or lose, their legendary status is undeniable. Some are renowned for their personalities, their ways to hype up fights that would seem less intriguing on paper if not for comments that make the fire burn brighter and hotter leading up to the explosive fight.
Now it seems as though our legends are slowly leaving us. Maybe the new wave is there and we haven’t quite seen anyone rise to the top yet. Maybe they are beginning to rise and a couple years from now we will see a new level of mixed martial arts that we have not seen in the past, yet we can ever tell until it happens?
I was recently watching the final few fights of Fedor Emelianenko‘s career, and I realized that there is a whole generation of fight fans that will never know his greatness or what he did for this sport. Sure you can hear it from friends or rewatch his fights, but at the end of the day no replay is going to make up for seeing him get the randleplex on his head and coming back to win.
It is amazing to watch every time because you truly believe Fedor was snapped in half by Kevin Randleman, but one can only imagine watching that live and seeing what followed. The same can be said for Fabricio Werdum locking on the triangle choke that finally dethroned “The Last Emperor.”
Sure hearing about it or watching a replay of it will still amaze you (I highly recommend watching both), but the feeling you got watching Fedor tap after TEN years unbeaten, it is truly a once in a lifetime experience. Now that Fedor is gone, it makes his legacy seem tarnished by those last losses to Werdum, Hendo, and Bigfoot.
Sure he went out on top with a win over Pedro Rizzo, but that was very much less viewed by the general fans, and less impressive than his losses. Had he retired before going to Strikeforce, his legacy would have remained intact, but we never would know how he would have held up against some of the best of the best.
Not only are we seeing our heroes lose, but also losing in drastic ways that could have damaging side effects that may last the rest of their lives. If anyone has seen a recent interview with Chuck Liddell or Gary Goodridge, you cannot deny that there are long lasting effects to being knocked out multiple times.
In other sports we are seeing these effects more and more, but strong contact sports such as MMA and boxing are going to feel these effects tenfold. Sure it is heartbreaking to lose our favorite fighters, but it is much harder to see our favorite fighters accrue brain damage and wind up barley functioning anymore.
Maybe we won’t see all of our heroes leave the grand stages broken and beaten. Anderson Silva is still looking strong despite sixteen years and 37 fights under his belt. Sure he isn’t undefeated, but neither was Fedor when his streak began.
We must not forget that one more win and “The Spider” will be tied with Fedor, perhaps he will break that record, demolish the streak and retire on a miraculous run that saw him defeat the best of the best in many different eras. Jon Jones is just beginning his career, even though he has become slightly polarized in the recent year, he has his whole career to look forward to, and most likely he will rebound and gain his following back sooner or later.
In the end, there will always be a sports figure worth looking up to. In MMA, it can change, it doesn’t matter if their name is Gracie, Fedor, Couture, or even Rousey, and they will always be there. Please don’t be discouraged seeing your hero retire, just be thankful that they gave you the moments that made you fans in the first place. I’ll never forget seeing the Shogun-Hendo fight that got me hooked into MMA, what’s your memory?
Watch some of Fedor’s most memorable moments throughout his career in the video below.
Video courtesy of YouTube uploader videomusicaclipe