A martial arts perfectionist. A humble yet ruthless man. With accolades in Russian Judo and Combat Sambo under the banners of Bellator Heavyweights, PRIDE Championships, Strikeforce, Fight Nights Global, Rizin World Grand Prix, M-1 Global, and many more. Fedor Vladimirovich Emelianenko may just be, The Greatest Heavyweight Mixed Martial Artist Of All Time. 

Fedor’s career has spanned over 20 years with victories over some of the biggest names in mixed martial arts. His reign has toppled multiple former UFC champions, a Pride FC champion, one former and two future K-1 champions, and a handful of Olympic medalists. His career began at the Japanese promotion, Fighting Network Rings, in the year 2000. The Last Emperor won his first four bouts for the organization. During his fifth fight, he lost to a very controversial doctor stoppage in the first round. The strike that called the fight in favor of Fedor’s opponent, Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, was an illegal elbow.


The Greatest Winning Streak Of All Time

After this bout, the world of mixed martial arts crumbled under the heavyweight prowess of Emelianenko. He would then carry the longest official win streak in mixed martial arts history, 27 straight fights. 

The list of challengers he’s defeated during this legendary run includes; 

  • UK Mixed Martial Arts pioneer Lee Hasdell
  • Australian MMA pioneer Chris Haseman
  • Four-time K-1 World Grand Prix Champion and one-time Glory Heavyweight Grand Slam Champion Semmy Schilt
  • World Vale Tudo Champion Heath Herring
  • UFC Hall Of Famer and multiple-time Pride Heavyweight Champion Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira (two times), 
  • two-time IWGP Heavyweight Champion, World Heavyweight Champion, and GHC Heavyweight Champion Yuji Nagata
  • The UFC 10 and UFC 11 champ, the first UFC Heavyweight Champion, and the Pride Open Weight Grand Prix champion Mark Coleman (two times), 
  • UFC Hall Of Famer and Ex Heavyweight Champion Kevin Randleman
  • The 2006 Pride Open-Weight Grand Prix Champion, the 2012 K-1 World Grand Prix Champion, and the 2016 Rizin Open Weight Grand Prix Champion became the second fighter in the world to win both mixed martial arts and kickboxing championships and tournaments. Furthermore former IGF Champion. Officer in the Lučko Anti-Terrorist Unit and Croatia’s elite Police Special Forces tactical unit Mirko Cro Cop Filipović
  • 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix Champion and WKBF Australian Super Heavyweight Champion Mark Hunt
  • The former two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia
  • And the former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski

The greatest streak that MMA will see for many many more years. What is interesting, is that his streak is shorter than it should be due to a technicality. His fight against Tsuyoshi Koshaka in 2000 was recorded as an official loss, although it should have been ruled a “No Contest” or even a disqualification victory for Emelianenko. Were it not for that technicality, Emelianenko’s streak would extend beyond 30 victories and include the likes of Ricardo Arona.

A Humble Hero’s Legacy

Despite this his career did not end there;

  • Monson is a two-time winner of the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championship and is a No Gi Brazilian jiu-jitsu World Champion Jeff Monson,
  • Judo Olympic Gold Medalist Satoshi Ishii,
  • UFC Heavyweight top contender Pedro Rizzo,
  • K1 Heavyweight Champion Jaideep Singh,
  • FNG Light Heavyweight Championship Fábio Maldonado,
  • Former two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion, the record holder for the most finishes and submission victories in UFC Heavyweight history Frank Mir,
  • Top contender in both the light heavyweight and middleweight divisions, now MMA analyst for ESPN Chael Sonnen,
  • Former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion and unified the Pride Middleweight Championship belt Quinton “Rampage” Jackson.

The remarkable career of Fedor Emelianenko came to an end this past Saturday at Bellator 290, where the former Pride legend was TKO’d in Round 1 by heavyweight champion Ryan Bader in his retirement fight.

At 46, Emelianenko may have hung up his gloves later than he should’ve, but there’s no denying his significance to MMA. And Emelianenko certainly has a strong case to be the greatest heavyweight of all time.

Fedor’s Favorite Moments

In the press conferences just before his retirement fight Fedor was reported saying;

“My first fight with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira for the belt,” he responded when asked about the moment or fight that stands out from his career, allowing a brief moment of earnestness to shine through his notoriously stoic interview nature. “The whole fight week was amazing, it was my first fight for the belt.”

“And the whole training camp was crazy and I was getting prepared because everything was going through my mind. There was going to be a belt and a fight with one of the greatest fighters of all time. It really stimulated me because I was training three times as hard as I ever did before. From that, there was a lot of pressure on me because it was a fight for the belt.”

“I’m feeling as good as a 46-year-old man can feel,” he joked. “The only thing I’m thinking about is that this is my last fight and I will be done. Finally, I’m going to be able to spend more time with my family and spend more time with my team. Family will come first place, but my team is my family as well.

“I’ve had a pretty special experience with Bellator because over here I was not just a fighter but I was a coach as well. We’ve had probably the greatest relationship I have had anywhere. There were some moments in the last fight, I’ve thought it over, I’ve worked on my footwork and this time it is going to be different.”

Khabib Nurmagomedov

The lightweight GOAT Khabib “The Eagle” Nurmagomedov had this to say about some of his favorite fighters growing up;

“When I grew up, it was two, maybe three. Three my favorite fighters, when I was 16. They was on prime. It was Fedor, it was Mauricio Shogun Rua, and Georges St-Pierre. It was three guys, he was on prime. It was like UFC and pride champions and I was grew up watching their fights, you know and when I meet them first, it was like very big emotional for me, you know. Because I grew up with their fights.”

Daniel Cormier

Daniel Cormier had Stipe Miocic as his GOAT Heavyweight pick.

“I think that the myth of Fedor is bigger than what he is in mixed martial arts history,” said Cormier. “It’s the lore, the tall tale. I don’t think he’s the greatest heavyweight of all time. I think that belongs to Stipe Miocic only because Cain Velasquez was injured so much. In terms of skill, there is no one that can ever match Velasquez as a heavyweight. I believe that Stipe Miocic’s title defenses, and the long reign he had on top puts him at the top. But Fedor is in the top five and I don’t think it’s anything to be ashamed of.”

“When I think of Fedor, I think of back in 2007-09, that scary guy, the Russian who barely spoke. He was quiet. He was like a mythical monster that would show up and he would just beat everyone. When I think of Fedor, I think Fedor is the story of aging fighters who don’t get out when they probably should. He’s 46 years old, fighting Ryan Bader, and he just gets demolished. Then you start to forget about all the great memories that he had because all you remember lately is what you’re seeing.”

Scott Coker

Scott Coker, the CEO of Bellator, had a completely different opinion about his prizefighter.

“When I think about Fedor, his accomplishments, and I was telling this to Josh [Barnett] and Randy [Couture] and Dan [Henderson] and all the guys that were in the cage. I said, ‘you guys have already done it all, Fedor has already done it all,” Coker said post-fight at Bellator 290.

“He didn’t need to fight. He doesn’t need to do anything…. he doesn’t need to prove himself. He’s already done. To me, he’s the greatest heavyweight of all time. What I’d like to see him and Randy fight before? Sure. Him and Josh, of course. But if you look at the string of fights that he had in Pride during his heyday run, it was just incredible.”

Coker said when asked if Fedor was the greatest heavyweight of all time.

“Absolutely, you can’t compare anybody else’s body of work to what he’s done over the last 18 years or so. There’s moments in time and there’s spurts of runs, but nobody’s has had a run like that. So in my opinion, he fought the best fighters in the world that were fighting in Japan at that time. They weren’t fighting here. The best fighters in the world, if you guys remember back in the Pride days, were all fighting in Japan, and he went through them all.

“He did not duck anybody. We asked him to fight, he’s always said yes. He’s always accepting each challenge. So he’s a real true champion and to me, he’s the GOAT.”

Mirko Cro Cop

The Croatian sensation was all class with his farewell tribute to his old rival and friend.

“Tomorrow early in the morning after his last fight, the last PRIDE’s giant and champion, Fedor Emelianenko, will leave the battle scene! For me, the greatest and most complete MMA fighter of all time,” Cro Cop wrote on his Instagram. “It was a pleasure and privilege to share the ring with him once and to share the same dressing room many times in the Saitama Arena. Regardless of the outcome of tomorrow’s match, for me and many others, you remain forever the icon of free fighting and the GOAT. Good luck, Fedor.”


With that, we end an era of The Last Emperor of Mixed Martial Arts. Fedor is a champion among champions and is revered for his ability to win under any circumstance. This past Saturday night, Bellator 290 went down on CBS and the heavyweight title was on the line again in the main event. “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko (40-7) was looking to go out on top as he took on heavyweight champion Ryan Bader (31-7). And though Ryan Bader stopped Fedor in the first round via TKO, the loss didn’t take away from the amazing career Emelianenko has had. He shook hands with his peers, competitors, and friends, and we will still get to see him coach fighters and be in the political eye. May his reign be long-lived.


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