Fedor vs. Henderson Analysis: No Country for Old Men

Last Saturday, Fedor Emelianenko was defeated again.

This time, it was Dan Henderson‘s H-Bomb that left “The Last Emperor” with his face down on the canvas, as Herb Dean rushed in to stop the action 4:12 minutes into Round 1. Early stoppage or not, it was an amazing victory for Dan Henderson, who once again proved that he’s one of the all-time greats, just like his opponent that night, Fedor Emelianenko.

Maybe Fedor looked better than in his previous bouts against Antonio Silva and Fabricio Werdum, but it was not enough to “crack” the 6 years older, and 15lbs lighter Dan Henderson.

All three of Fedor’s previous opponents beat him at his own game.

Fedor’s elite SAMBO skills turned him into one of the most dangerous grapplers on the planet. Yet, he was trapped inside Fabricio Werdum‘s triangle, and eventually forced to tap out after just 69 seconds. Against Antonio Silva, Fedor faced a giant, and we all know that “The Last Emperor” made a career out of slaying bigger and stronger men. Not anymore. “Bigfoot” brutally pummeled Fedor out of the first round of Strikeforce Heavyweight GP.

Finally, Henderson had Fedor in the clinch for several minutes, but the much heavier Emelianenko was unable to use his legendary Judo throws to put the “All-American” on his back. Henderson later used a sweep Fedor would see from miles away in PRIDE; in what was a beginning of the end at Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.

For me, as a fan of Mixed Martial Arts, it was painful to watch. Fedor Emelianenko represents so many people, not only Eastern Europeans, and I’m sure that many fans around the world wanted to see him bouncing back from what would have been simply “bad luck” against Antonio Silva and Fabricio Werdum. But it wasn’t.

Mixed Martial Arts evolved, and left Fedor behind. “The Last Emperor” stayed the same fighter he was in PRIDE, minus the age factor and the natural drop in motivation, while Dan Henderson, who has exactly the same amount of fights and is, like I mentioned before, 6 (7 this August) years older, evolved his game to the point he’s still considered one of the best fighters on the planet. Training camps, training partners, nutrition, pharmacology… it’s hard to point a finger at something specific. The bottom line is still out there, written in bold – Fedor will struggle against anyone out of today’s Top 10 fighters, from Light Heavyweight to Heavyweight. It’s a new era with different rules.

Like I said many times before, there are a lot of people trying to re-write history by dismissing Fedor Emelianenko‘s legacy and his impact on Mixed Martial Arts. Like it or not, Fedor is one of the most influential figures in the history of this sport. His place in history as one of the greatest fighters (any type of combat sports) in history is set in stone.

The question is, what does Fedor want to do now? If Fedor wants to continue fighting, he has to face the facts and change his routine as a fighter by 180 degrees, and of course drop down to Light Heavyweight. You can’t be a successful fighter in today’s MMA with a tire around your waist. In case of retirement, Emelianenko can continue his work as a member of Belgorod Regional Parliament, coach young Russian up-and-coming MMA fighters or go full time into religion.

This way or another, whatever Fedor’s decision is, MMA fans around the world will still watch his fights in PRIDE, and remember Emelianenko Fedor as “The Last Emperor”.



  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Poweroftwomen/ poweroftwomen

    Great article. There is still alot of hype around weather the stoppage was made early but at one point in the fight fedor was out cold so in my eyes herb did make the right decision. More of a concern was the two maybe three punches that were directly to the back of the head of fedor, dan has been about for years and obviously knows the rules but nevertheless they were right on the centreline of the back of his head.
    I think if a rematch was to happen, i think hendo would win again to be honest, fedor was rocked real early and then could`nt out muscle the smaller guy when they were against the fence, so really the writing was on the wall in some sense`s.
    From the way fedor was speaking i don`t think he will retire, i rekon they will put him up against an up and comer in strikeforce and i think fedor will do a job on whoever it is. Thats when we will see the re-birth of fedor.Hopefully that win will give him and his team confidence and squash this dreaded losing streak he is on, he might even go on a winning streak himself which means these past three losses will be forgotten about in no time. Final verdict: Fedor`s career survives by the skin of its teeth!

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Griffin/ griffin

    Fedor needs to start taking people down again and quit rushing guys with wild punches. If you look at the beginning of the hendo fight after the exchange they tie up and fedor looks like he wants to hip toss him but is just not confident enough to do it and possibly give up his back. He needs to go back to his old ways that made him so great and then he will be back on top again.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Retzef/ retzef

    We cannot forget the fact he fought one of the top guys in the division.A legend himself.I thought Hendo looked really good and in shape.Stuffed the early storm and finished him in a very good fashion.I think he followed his own gameplan to put the squeeze on fedor with his Greco Roman style.Fedor looked a bit lost after he got rocked in the first exchange,but i agree on the fact he will always be a dangerous fighter once on the rebound.But great fight and lots of great fights to come coming months.Kida

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Lowkickdodger/ Lowkickdodger

    I think Fedor may have lost his past fights not because he continued fighting like the old Pride days but on the contrary he stopped fighting like he used to in Pride. He was always very agressive but he knew back then how to be cautious and patient. Now it seems like Fedor thinks he’s invincible and can go and rush on a dangerous one punch knock out guy like Hendo.

    His camp had the wrong strategy and they needed to get a sense of hendo’s timing instead of going for brawl like a wild man.
    If you look at Fedor vs Nog I and II, Fedor had a lot of respect for Nog’s game, was careful, taking limited risk on the ground but was not afraid to gnp him effectively.

    Fedor vs Werdum, now Fedor is just smelling the blood too soon, gets trapped in Werdum’s strategy without thinking, goes inside his guard and gets submitted like a rookie. Does he think ‘its ok i’m invincible?’

    Fedor became like Chuck and thinks that fighters didn’t evolve and are easy to finish once they are hurt, they’re NOT.

    Chuck and Fedor were in shape, doing really good against their opponents until they got too exited and got knocked out. Yes, they used to punish ppl like that but now they are punished.

    Fedor needs to take his time imo and be the cardio machine he used to be. The possible reason y Fedor wanted that fight to be over quick is that he knew Dan would try to wear him out and grind him. I suspect Fedor lost the endurance he used to have. Why working on it when you can finish guys with one punch? But now you can’t so its time to be smart again !

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Nochoice/ nochoice

    Couldn’t have said it better myself, agreed, agreed, agreed ! (lowkickdodger)

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Ogobska/ ogobska

    lol what nice profile pic :))

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Krogan/ Krogan

    I am a huge Fedor fan and think he is the best of all time but not even he can remain on top if he doesn’t evolve with the game.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Fullcustom/ Fullcustom

    I think Fedor is still a handfull for any fighter, but he and his camp need to be realistic about the evolution of the MMA game. If his camp spent one year eating correctly and tighting him up he would be faster than he already is with that spare tire. He also went into this fight thinking that his extra size was going to help him against the smaller Hendo. When that bell rang, he ran at Hendo like he didn’t care about getting hit. Then, once he got nailed in that first exchane his whole game plan went out the door and he had nothing. He WAS a smarter fighter in PRIDE. He’s only 35 which means he still has a good 5 years of realistically going for a title in UFC or Strikeforce. Personally, I hope that he and his team get with the times. If he slims down to 205, trains with some other camps, works on some deffence, fights smart and respects is opponents power again I don’t think theres to many fighters at 205 that could hang in the UFC or Strikeforce.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Ryan-Ventura/ Ryan Ventura

    Regardless of his decision and these losses, I don’t think of him any differently. He has provided me with some many wonderful memories of our sport, his legend in my personal opinion will never die.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Terra2805/ terra2805

    when you analyse Fedors striking it isn’t that good really, he has plenty of power but poor technique, he throws big wild looping punches from the waist and when he misses he leaves himself wide open, he never throws straight punches either. If he catches you it will hurt but if he misses he’s open for the counter which is what happened at the start of the fight when Hendo caught him with that lovely overhand right counter. If Fedor could refine his striking and get some proper technique, learn to throw tight hooks, uppercuts and straight punches, with his power he would be a lot more deadly on his feet, he already has the ground game so i think he should focus on technique now standing, if he’s going to carry on that is, we’ll see….

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Cranestyle/ cranestyle

    Excellent article.

    I’ll never forget watching Fedor destroy Nogueira with power punches from inside his guard.

    But I think unless he rethinks everything and goes to 205, he will continue to struggle at the highest level.

    And I don’t think that is going to happen. If he wants to leave his comfort zone when he trains, he would have done it after that last lost.

    No one stays great for ever, but Fedor managed it for a long time.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Spyridon/ Spyridon

    I don’t think it’s an issue of the weight class, I just dont think his heart is in it as much anymore. (I don’t mean this in a negative light at all – let me explain)

    After the fight in the interview w/ Ariel he was saying he doesnt worry about what happens with fights too much, what he worries about is his family and making sure his daughter is born healthy, etc. Later on in the interview he was saying how he’s definitely going to go back to the gym because this is all hes known for his life that he can remember.

    I think deep down, he really wants to settle down and become a family man. Especially since getting married recently and having kids. Seems like hes just reluctant to leave because, as he said, it’s all he has known. He probably doesnt want to let down anyone either – his fans, his management, his friends & family, etc.

    You can definitely tell when you look at the shape he’s in compared to a few years ago, and how his fighting style has changed. His gameplans are simpler and he’s running in to situations gun blazing swinging for the fences – hopping right in to opponents guard in dangerous situations, etc. He’s fighting like he has something to prove, rather than fighting intelligently how he used to.

    If his heart is still in it, then by all means he should keep going. But if his heart isnt in it anymore, there’s no shame in moving on. If anyone is disappointed by him moving on and feeling like he let them down, they arent real fans/friends anyway. His legacy is his legacy, walking away won’t make it any less real. It would actually be good for it – no more chances for people to attempt to discredit his legacy.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Bilhal/ Bilhal

    Enough said.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Xdecemberguy/ xdecemberguy

    Man look at all these people that still believe the Fedor Hype. Its nonsense. He was never really that good and his latest performances in Strikeforce proves it. Yes he had a great run in the late 90′s and early 00′s has an impressive record, but he was fighting heavyweight that are not at the top level. You can say all the crap you want, but now its crystal clear. Fedor hasn’t been the best heavyweight in the sport for a long time. He’s a decent fighter that his manager has been able to build up his record by fighting second class fighters.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Remixjiujitsu/ remixjiujitsu

    great post. totally true. huge fan of fedor for years, very sad to see him lose again after being undefeated for so long. i wish fedor realizes the sport has changed and retires and becomes a trainer for russian and european up-and-coming fighters.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Jackthedrinker89/ jackthedrinker89

    one of the top guys in the division? Try one of the Top guys in the LHW division, dont try to to suger coat it. Man all this hate ive been given off i need to weak my self, but i SPEAKITH THE TRUTH!!

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/GianGiacommo-G/ GianGiacommo G

    Enough with the stupid H-bomb,give it a rest already,geez!

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Ramiro/ Ramiro

    Very very true, his boxing skills are sadly lacking.
    He has power and speed but his technique/guard aren’t the best.
    Actually average i would say or lower, BUT with ferocious power and great speed comes a lot of ko’s. Its hard to defend against fast powerful punches. He need to works his standup technique, wrestling, bjj, start to analyze opponents and make smart gameplans and get a strength and conditioning coach to get back in the game.
    Or he will get knocked ut again and again and again, and the retire.
    I dont want to see him go out like that!!!!

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/DirtyBox/ DirtyBox

    you are new to mma. Guaranteed.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/DirtyBox/ DirtyBox

    PS then why is Fedor listed in your profile as your “Favorite Fighter” haha what a tool.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Asdf/ asdf

    I question a lot of things on Fedors camp. I don’t understand why he stands and trades with incredibly heavy hitters, he could take the fight to the ground and do well, he controlled Big Foot on the ground well, why not do the same to Hendo who’s 16lbs lighter. I understand he’s never been KO’ed until Dan but still if he trade and take it to the ground he’d do a lot better. Only reason i can think of, is that he wants a fight to be exciting, as short of the fight it was you cannot say that it was boring, probably the most exciting 4 minutes in MMA this year, i was on my feet in my apartment, it was great. Fedor puts on the best fights, win or lose.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Barochoc/ barochoc

    Anyone saying Fedor was never that good is clearly a newbie or a troll. The guy is a LEGEND!
    Fact is, heavyweights were never as finely tuned as they are today. The division has progressed the most over the last few years without doubt. Most heavyweights hadn’t got the conditioning that Fedor had so other than his skill set he was generally more durable.
    It’s possible that you might not be able to teach the old dog new tricks.

    Fedor never looked sharper to me than in the last few open training sessions before this fight. His speed looked better than ever, his combo’s looked savage & he looked like he’d really embraced Muay Thai. I believed we were going to see a stand up war & I expected a finish in R2 by KO/TKO just slightly in Fedors favor .

    Instead we got Fedor imitating a Windmill & leave all that behind. I was dissapointed but hey, that’s MMA.

    Dan was exceptional I might ad. He was hurt bad but that chin proved itself again. He made an amazing transmission from the bottom to take Fedors back & land that uppercut (not a H-Bomb) that KO’d (Flashed) Fedor.

    The funny thing about the stoppage is this, had Herb stopped it a few seconds earlier it would have been justified by the majority but those extra seconds (I believe Hendo then KO’d him conscious) allowed Fedor to turn over & begin his recovery. He possibly would have got a hold of Dan & hung on till R2. It’s all possibilities & may be’s but bottom line is, Dan won & Herb Dean did his job.

    This needs to be buried. Fedor WILL be back. Will he win? Not sure but I’ve never seen a more humble fighter in my life & for that he deserves all your respect.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/GianGiacommo-G/ GianGiacommo G

    i do,popsicles are on sale you dipstick,come get yours!

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Asdf/ asdf

    Truthfully i think he’s just been unlucky lately. I don’t want to give excuses, but some fighters just go through that period. Fedor might be under motivated, getting older, no changing his camp etc. But i think it’s just luck at the moment. He was in great shape, quick, strong all the things you need to beat anybody.

  • http://lowkickmma.com/members/Pdc666666/ pdc666666

    I just watched the fight. I thought herb was pulling Dan off for 2 nasty illegal shots to the back of the head. Bad refereeing. Fedor may have recovered maybe not but the 2 -3 wacks to the base of the skull didn’t help.