Fight fans, you’ve probably heard the news.
The man often described as “The Greatest of All Time” announced he was coming back to MMA yesterday.
At least, that’s how guys like me describe him. Some of you may feel differently. Some may not know the name at all!
If you’re among the former, a quick search will reveal that “The Last Emperor” was among the most dominant heavyweights in MMA. In his first 33 MMA bouts (after a career as a world class judo and SAMBO practitioner), his only loss was a cut stoppage due to an illegal tactic – the fluke loss to end all flukes.
During that time, he won and defended the PRIDE FC title during the heyday of the Japanese MMA scene, and also struck gold while fighting for Affliction MMA and Strikeforce – in events co-promoted by Russian MMA organization M-1.
In fact, it has been claimed by UFC President Dana White that co-promotion with M-1 was the sticking point preventing Fedor from signing on with the UFC.
Tough times followed those days of glory for Fedor, and he retired officially in 2012 after a M-1 event in his native Russia.
But now, it seems, that’s history. Fedor is back – having, as he puts it, “managed to recover and heal old injuries.”
But, where? And, when?
Since the official announcement was made on the M-1 Global Facebook page, it’s safe to say he’ll be promoting with M-1 again, which would eliminate the UFC.
Might be fun to see a Cro-Cop rematch there, but — seems unlikely.
Since Fedor enjoyed a good relationship with Scott Coker in his Strikeforce days, and has even helped Coker with Bellator’s promotional duties of late, it would seem Bellator would be a strong contender.
But maybe there’s something else out there entirely.
Here are four choices for Fedor’s comeback. They vary in realism and general interest.
- Kimbo Slice in Bellator. Well, why not? It’s the biggest spectacle currently available, and Bellator is all about spectacles. The Bellator show which featured Kimbo vs. Ken Shamrock peaked at a record 2.4 million viewers. This would certainly keep the ball rolling.
- Brock Lesnar in Bellator. Sounds crazy, right? Lesnar just signed a big contract with WWE and said he has “officially closed the door on MMA.” But hey — (Viacom) money talks. Maybe something between WWE, M-1, and Bellator could be arranged. The fight would pair possibly the biggest heavyweight attraction in MMA history against possibly the greatest of all time. That would be pretty good…
- Roger Gracie in ONE Championships. This one sounds odd, sure — Gracie has kept a low MMA profile since a disappointing run at middleweight in the UFC last year. But — surprise! He enjoyed a successful return to MMA (at his old home at light heavyweight) at ONE: Warrior’s Way in the Philippines back in December. It’s easy to imagine the hype that ONE would generate for a bout between Fedor and Gracie: arguably the most decorated jiu-jitsu artist in history and the current Gracie family champion, against the face of Russian SAMBO. Incidentally, Gracie just scored an impressive submission win over another BJJ legend in Rodrigo “Comprido” Medeiros in a jiu-jitsu match last weekend.
- Brandon Vera in ONE. Hey, speaking of the ONE, and the Philippines – Filipino-American Brandon Vera is probably the biggest heavyweight name out there in ONE, and enjoying increased visibility in Asia. A win over Fedor could offer Vera a new identity in the division.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments.