Humility – is the quality of being modest, reverential, even politely submissive, and never being arrogant, contemptuous, rude or even self-abasing. Humility, in various interpretations, is widely seen as a virtue in many religious and philosophical traditions, being connected with notions of transcendent unity with the universe or the divine and devoid of ego.
This past Saturday, those who witnessed the monumental upset of the man many believe to be the greatest fighter in the history of mixed martial arts, also bared witness to two very distinctive and inspiring displays of humility.
At approximately 1:09 of the very 1st round, Fabricio Werdum became the first man to defeat Fedor Emelianenko in nearly a decade. In the early moments of the fight, a flurry of strikes by Emelianenko caused the Brazilian to backpedal, at which time he lost his footing and fell to the ground.
In hopes of securing a quick finish over his fallen foe, Fedor aggressively dove toward Fabricio allowing him to wrap up an arm for a quick arm-bar attempt.
The Last Emperor was able to thwart the attempt briefly, but made a critical error in judgment. Instead of disengaging from the BJJ blackbelt, Fedor again pressed the action.
In doing so, Fabricio was able to secure a tight triangle choke / arm-bar combination.
And just like that, without throwing a single punch, Werdum had done something that very few even fathomed possible…
What happened next is something that I feel defines the true nature and essence of what mixed martial arts represents. Very few know of the depths of dedication and sacrifice which these warriors commit to in order to compete within the sport of MMA. By definition, MMA is a 1 on 1 competition in which fighters utilize a mixture of various combat arts in an effort to defeat their opponent, but that definition does little to expose the true devotion and these artists. Accordingly, it could be said that because of this, fighters have an unfettered appreciation and respect for each other’s spirit and willingness to compete. Never was this more evident that Saturday night.
Following the loss, no excuses were made. No injuries were claimed, no discrediting could be found. In one of the biggest moments in the history of the sport, nothing short of humility and classiness was displayed by two men on opposing sides of the outcome.
Fedor’s reaction to his first true loss was as stoic and humble as in any of his previous victories. When asked of his performance, he stated simply, ""I made a mistake, I'll try to figure out and analyze why it happened."
"The one who doesn't fall, never stands up. It happened that people made me an idol. But everybody loses. I'm just a human being. And if it's God's will, next fight, I'll win. At the very beginning of the round, I hit him and I wanted to finish as soon as possible, at that moment, I made a mistake. I would like to have a rematch with Fabricio if he was to agree. I’d love to do that.... There were several moments when I could escape, but I relied on myself too much and that’s why I paid for it. At the very moment when I had to escape, I stopped, and that moment was used for Fabricio to lock it on. I’m really very sorry and it’s a pity that I disappointed people who believe in me and trusted in me, but everything in this life happens for some reason. If God decided this is what should happen, then it’s the best thing for this very time."
The evening’s big winner, Fabricio, displayed an equal amount of grace and humility in his post-fight interview with Gus Johnson. He proclaimed Fedor to be "the best… Everyone knows Fedor is the best. I would like a re-match with Fedor, he’s the best…"
The Last Emperor made it clear that he will use this loss to learn and reflect with intentions to return to action as soon as possible; resuming his position as one the greatest mixed martial artists of all time. Though no date for a return has been established, company officials have stated that an early fall fight would appeal to the fighter and his camp, possibly as early as September or October of this year.
Saturday night was many things to many people. Fedor’s legion of fans saw their hero fall for the first time. Fabricio Werdum showed that against all odds, when a fighter believes in himself, anything is possible. Both men showed that this sport extends beyond a physical contest, and that spirit, dedication, and respect is at the center of its foundation. And lastly, we learned once again, that when it comes to the sport of MMA the only certainty, is that nothing is ever certain…
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