There have been so many legends of MMA within the cage who traveled to Inglewood, California, from each nook of the nation who knew precisely the sensation Fedor Emelianenko had on Saturday.
The legendary Russian heavyweight, who within the first half of this century helped make MMA what it’s at the moment, had simply been knocked out in 2:30 by Ryan Bader in the primary occasion of Bellator 290 at The Discussion board.
There was a scratch on his nostril. Blood dripped from his lip. His face was reddened. He was winded as he tried to precise his feelings after an unimaginable 23-year profession had come to an finish.
So a lot of his former rivals, and his friends from a time when MMA actually needed to battle to outlive one other day, have been dropped at California by Bellator to have fun his retirement.
It wasn’t alleged to be like this, although anybody who is aware of the battle recreation needed to know in his coronary heart of hearts that, certainly, it could.
It occurred to “The Best,” Muhammad Ali, in Nassau, Bahamas, in 1981, when he was crushed by Trevor Berbick. At Ali’s peak, Berbick wasn’t adequate to tie his footwear, however on the finish, Ali suffered an ignominious beating.
So a lot of these within the cage with Emelianenko suffered the identical destiny. Mark Coleman, who was crushed twice by Emelianenko at a time when each have been of their primes, ended by dropping three of his final 4 and was knocked out by Randy Couture within the second spherical of his closing bout.
Couture, one of many few legends of the early days of MMA that Emelianenko didn’t meet, was knocked out through entrance kick at age 47 within the second spherical by Lyoto Machida. Chuck Liddell was there, and he misplaced his closing 4, all by knockout, and dropped six of his closing seven.
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson known as it quits at 41 after he was knocked out in 2019 by Emelianenko of all individuals. Matt Hughes misplaced his closing two by knockout; Frank Shamrock was knocked out in his closing two and misplaced three of his final 4 earlier than retiring at 38.
It’s a prolonged record, which solely proves the brutal nature of fight sports activities. MMA heartlessly, cruelly devours its legends and one other went down the identical path on Saturday.
Let’s be trustworthy right here for a second: Emelianenko, at 46, had no enterprise being within the cage on Saturday. Golf and baseball lend themselves to Senior Excursions and Previous-Timer Video games. Preventing sports activities most definitely don’t.
Bader is much from the best fighter, and even biggest heavyweight on the planet, however he’s a stable skilled who has by no means misplaced at heavyweight. After Saturday’s bout, he improved his file at heavyweight to 7-0 by getting his third end within the division.
A kind of got here in 2019 when he knocked out the identical man in the identical constructing in the identical spherical in the identical one-sided method. Emelianenko lasted solely 35 seconds in 2019, and there was no cause for him to go on.
He’s idolized by so many, most particularly by fighters who grew up and bought interested by MMA by watching him look invincible as he reeled off 27 consecutive victories over almost 10 years in opposition to a number of the best heavyweights in MMA historical past.
His time had lengthy since handed previous to Saturday’s unnecessary drubbing. There’s an exception to each rule, however an excellent rule of thumb for battle promoters to observe is when the concept pops into one’s head to place a 46-year-old individual right into a cagefight to drop the concept instantly.
We didn’t must see that occur to anybody, however particularly to not one of many greats of the game. It could have been higher to have him give a curtain name with out preventing, letting the followers say goodbye by watching a wonderfully edited spotlight reel and having his friends within the cage to shake his hand and congratulate him on a job nicely finished.
Because it was, sweaty, bloodied and battered, Emelianenko was all grace and sophistication within the cage when it was finished.
“At one facet, I’m unhappy in fact that I didn’t ship within the battle,” Emelianenko mentioned within the cage via a translator. “On the opposite facet, although, I’m comfortable that each one these persons are right here cheering for me and all these veteran fighters who’ve walked this path with me for the final 20 years are right here to greet me, so I’m very comfortable.”
Bader, in fact, made his title as a heavyweight in 2019 by knocking out Emelianenko after which wished him goodbye by pummeling him in his retirement battle.
Bader didn’t wish to speak about what he’d finished, as a result of from an precise preventing perspective, what he did on Saturday was no massive deal taking out a 46-year-old man who had misplaced the zip on his fastball years prior.
He needed to speak about what it meant to twice share the cage with Emelianenko, an emotion a lot of these different fighters mirrored upon themselves once they greeted him after the carnage.
“It’s not even the wins; it’s with the ability to compete in opposition to that man,” Bader mentioned. “That first battle was wonderful; this one was the identical deal. There’s such a build-up, or no matter, preventing Fedor. Standing throughout that cage from him was fairly surreal.”
The Emelianenko Period is over, later than it must be however it’s lastly finished. Time will decide the place he must be ranked, how excessive up on the all-time record he must be positioned. However the look of the legends who turned out to pay tribute to this stoic Russian warrior on Saturday ought to inform you all you have to learn about his function within the historical past of the game of blended martial arts.
Few have ever finished it higher.