It is often said that there is a fine line between genius and insanity. This quote has been used when speaking of people like Albert Einstein, Adolf Hitler and Benjamin Franklin. Allow me to use it in a different context for a moment. How about Fedor Emelianenko?
Fedor and his M-1 Global conglomerate teeters on the line of genius / insanity like no one else in the current MMA world (well, maybe Dana White, but he is a whole other article). Whether you love him or hate him, you have to respect Fedor for his talent. The question is, does M-1 Global protect his legacy or tarnish it? Is it possible for to do both?
M-1 Global is a collection of enterprises. It is a promotional company, management company, fight team, and, most recently, a training center in Holland. The head of this new Global conglomerate is President Vadim Finkelstein. The other public face behind M-1 Global is none other than Fedor Emelianenko. For those of you who don’t know, Fedor makes all of the decisions regarding who he fights, when he fights, where he fights, and every other decision regarding his pugilistic career. It is well known that fighters have their hand in the cookie jar when it comes to their prize money and contracts, but Fedor seemingly has both hands in the cookie jar with a pan of cookies still baking in the oven. How does this affect the MMA landscape?
It is well known that the UFC is the 600 lb. gorilla in the room. There have been a few organizations that have made a run at the UFC’s undisputed crown, but they have all failed more miserably than Jacare’s MMA career. The UFC is the big fish in the small pond and has become the global leader in the sport. They do not have to share their profits or market with anyone except the smaller feeder system shows that exist in Everytown, USA. M-1 Global has been able to exist because they have been remoras on bigger shows that try to battle the UFC. Fedor is a fighter that everyone wants to see but he is an M-1 fighter. In order for Fedor to be on a card, M-1 Global has to be a co-promoter and get a portion of the gate money, Pay-Per-View dollars and merchandising. Dana White however, has an ego that is larger than Fedor’s reputation so there is no way he will ever allow the M-1 Global team to bully in on his profits. This prevents Fedor from being able to fight in the UFC.
You might be thinking, “So what? Even if he hasn’t fought in the UFC, Fedor is still getting to fight everywhere else, whenever he wants!” True. Fedor has managed to keep himself busy, relevant, and a ubiquitous topic on message boards on the internet, but at what cost? The UFC has the reins drawn in on all of the top heavyweights in the world. This means Fedor is left fighting mediocre opponents and opponents who are well past their prime. This is beneficial to him because he continues to run his winning streak up and continues to stay in the top spot of most ranking systems. He has impressive wins over Brett Rodgers, Andrei Arlovski, and Tim Sylvia. This winning streak, the impressive nature of these victories and the fact that the current UFC champion has his own issues all keep Fedor considered the top heavyweight in the World. If he was to retire right now, he would be considered one of the pound for pound best fighters to ever grace the sport of MMA.
The title of “pound for pound” best fighter in the world does not come without plenty of criticism and debate. The fact remains, his most recent victories have come over untested and out-dated opponents. Many claim that because Fedor has not fought “the top heavyweights”, or in other words the UFC heavyweights, that he does not deserve the title of best heavyweight and no way does he deserve the title of pound for pound best fighter. This will always be the asterisk on his lengthy record of victories until he fights the Brock Lesnars, Shane Carwins and Cain Velasquezs of the world. So, why is he not fighting them? Simple- GREED!
MMA fighters do not get paid based on the amount of hard work they put in. They simply do not get paid what they’re worth. Fedor wants to be paid what he feels he is worth, which is why he wants M-1 Global to not only fill up his cookie jar, but also lay claim to most of the cookies still baking in the oven. Dana White will never let M-1 even sniff the cookies, much less steal any from the UFC oven. This leaves Fedor fighting these lesser opponents and leaves the speculation out there of how legitimate his title really is. Say he retires right now. What would your feelings be? Is he the best or is he untested? Does he have to fight the UFC fighters or does his resume speak for itself? He has wins over Arlovski, Sylvia, Matt Lindland, Mark Hunt, Mark Coleman, Mirko Cro-Cop, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Kevin Randleman, Gary Goodridge, Heath Herring and Babalu Sobral. Is he a genius for wanting his hand in the cookie jar that he has helped fill, or is he insane for refusing to give the whole batch to Dana White? Well, that’s a fine line.
About the author: Chris “The Buzz-Saw”Bowman is a mixed martial arts competitor, school owner, and judge with over 15 years of combative experience.
He owns and operates Louisville Elite Combat in Louisville, KY. He is a black belt in the Japanese art of Bushi Jutsu Ryu and can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org