Freelance: Who Would Win if Brock Lesnar and Fedor Emelianenko Fought?
"The Last Emperor" Fedor Emelianenko is set to take on Matt "Meathead" Mitrione in his highly anticipated Bellator MMA debut when the promotion debuts at Madison Square Garden on June 24. However, in 2009, Fedor vs. Brock Lesnar in the UFC's octagon was the fight to make.
What could've been? More importantly, which beast would fall if the bout did take place?
Lesnar and Emelianenko would have been 32 and 33 years old respectively at that time. The UFC was giving the current WWE Universal champion everything but the kitchen sink by awarding him a shot at their heavyweight (265-pound) title with his record being just 2-1. The UFC was about experiencing another boom in popularity just as it had in 2005 after the first season of "The Ultimate Fighter" reality show and the two men would draw eyeballs to TV screens.
Legend vs. New Villain
For the longest time, even though the UFC was (and still is) the Super Bowl for Mixed Martial Arts. However, between the decade that Pride FC operated before closing down in 2007, there was a contingent of fans that felt that Pride had the better roster. A number of those fighters would move over to the UFC in 2007–but not Fedor.
He had earned his respect by being a finisher (having compiled a nearly flawless record with plenty of highlight reel knockouts. The Russian cultural figure went 29-1, 1 No Contest through 2008 with his only loss being by way of a doctor stopping the fight and the NC being due to an accidental head-butt.
Despite the fact that Fedor fought during a time when one-night tournaments still occurred and defend his Pride heavyweight title multiple times in exciting fashion, other fans felt the UFC had the best fighters in the world and that signing Fedor would give him a chance to prove himself as the king of the division.
Lesnar meanwhile had come over from the professional wrestling giant that is the WWE. Because he was a pro wrestler (as he is today on a part-time basis) that suddenly negated his natural ability (before his failed UFC 200 drug tests) and his NCAA national championship-winning wrestling background. MMA fans loathed him and, like CM Punk in 2016, wanted to see him get knocked on his backside for their enjoyment.
Fantasy Fight Breakdown
For as much of a knockout artist as Fedor was at the time, he is also known for his submission skill. His last win via tap-out came against Tim Silvia in 2008, his 17th (submissions make up 47 percent of his victories according to Sherdog.com.)
When it came to Lesnar, everyone in the UFC eventually figured out that he couldn't take a punch as well as he could dish one out and he wasn't versed in jiu-jitsu (there are two sub wins on his record, the first being outside the UFC and due to punches with the other being an arm-triangle triumph at UFC 116– but that didn't happen until 2010.)
Prediction: Winner- Brock Lesnar
While Fedor was better skilled on the ground, FightMetric, LLC stats show that he would attempt less that two submissions per fight (including his UFC 200 bout against Mark Hunt, Lesnar's figure is 0.5 per fight.) He would have to knock Lesnar out or take a win based on points.
However, these stats do not say anything about Lesnar's speed (something Fedor has never been known to have as slowly drudging forward and throwing leather has always been more his style.) Fedor would also only attempt two takedowns per fight (they were more accurate at 63 percent compared to 55) while the green former Minnesota Golden Gopher almost doubled that.
Lesnar taking Fedor down and hammering out the victory with his lunchbox-sized hands feels inevitable in spite of his inexperience.
Why the Fight Fell Through: Money/Management
The American came with his own hefty price tag, but his counterpart helped bankrupt Donald Trump's Affliction brand as a fight promotion. Although he was never the single highest paid athlete on either Affliction card, Fedor was paid $600,000 for just two events. The UFC has the ability to drop large amounts of cash, but didn’t meet the man's numbers.
Aside from that, he is managed by M-1, which runs the M-1 global promotion. M-1 wanted to be co-promoted with the UFC and co-promotion is something that UFC President Dana White has vowed never to do as it gives air time to his competition. Fedor felt that White simply hated him.
The UFC's leading man admitted that much, telling MMAFighting.com in 2013, "Brock wanted that fight. Brock wanted that fight bad.
"We had to build a f--king stadium in Russia, and we had to do all this stupid s--t, stuff that no normal f--king human being would do. And now they lay in bed every night and regret not doing that deal...I explained this to Fedor," White said. "‘We're catching a moment in time, right here, right now, where this fight between you and Brock Lesnar will be f--king massive. We're talking Dallas, Texas Stadium. This huge fight between these two big heavyweight guys. We're laying this massive f--king offer on the table.' I said, ‘You're one punch away from being worth f--king zero.'
What About Now?
If you are a novice MMA fan, one of the first things you need to learn (as with many things in life) is to never say never. The last fight Fedor had was in Japan against someone with less than a handful of bouts and he squashed that "tomato can." Lesnar is currently serving concurrent one-year bans handed down by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) and Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) because of his UFC 200 drug tests. He then announced his second retirement from MMA to the UFC.
While a move to Bellator seems unlikely, Fedor signing with the promotion is as much as cash-grab as having Lesnar come aboard. They are also owned by Viacom, an entertainment based-company interested in television ratings that put on the Kimbo Slice-Dada 5000 fight. Slice later popped for steroids shortly before his death and Dada 5000 claimed to have a two heart attacks during the debacle.
Bellator won't be able to match the UFC's money, but the UFC should also just be done with Lesnar. If Lesnar or should decide that they want more money for the sake of greed, never say never.