M-1 Global serve up its latest, and perhaps its biggest, mixed martial arts (MMA) event, "Fedor vs. Monson," on Sun. Nov. 20, 2011, from Olympic Arena in Moscow. Russia.
The event marks the anticipated return MMA legend, Fedor Emelianenko (31-4), who looks to rebound from three consecutive losses under the Strikeforce banner, taking on grizzled former number one Ultimate Fighitng Championship (UFC) number one heavyweight contender, Jeff Monson (42-12).
"The Last Emperor" was released of his obligations to ZUFFA after being knocked out for the first time in his 11 year career by fellow PRIDE legend Dan Henderson four months ago at the Strikeforce: "Fedor vs. Henderson" event. The loss, which was his third straight defeat after racking up 28 straight wins, sparked talks of retirement from the once pound-for-pound king. After making a successful Strikeforce debut against Brett Rogers, Fedor was stopped in his next three bouts against Fabricio Werdum, Antonio "Bigfoot" Silva and the previously mentioned Dan Henderson.
Fedor will look for possibly his last chance at redemption as he steps into the ring to battle a two -time ADCC champion and Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Jeff "The Snowman" Monson.
Monson, who once challenged for the UFC heavyweight championship, is coming off of a first round submission victory over Paul Taylor at Sprawl n Brawl 8 in England a little over a month ago. Prior to that, Monson was picked apart by top heavyweight contender Daniel Cormier at Strikeforce: "Overeem vs. Werdum" on June 18, 2011, losing a unanimous decision in his first and only fight under the Strikeforce banner.
Can Fedor end his slump and return to his winning ways?
Join me after the jump as we preview his bout and the rest of the M-1 Global: "Fedor vs. Monson" fight card.
265 lbs.: "The Last Emperor" Fedor Emelianenko (31-4) vs. Jeff "Snowman" Monson (43-12)
One would assume that Monson, a decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist, will look to take the fight to the ground as soon as possible. And while that may be his best option, given the fact that 27 of his 43 victories have come via submission, Fedor is by no means a green grappler. Though he may not have the credentials of a two-time Abu Dhabi Combat Club champion like his counterpart, Fedor has submitted 16 of his past opponents and has only been submitted once himself by Fabricio Werdum, which many consider to be his first true loss.
What's more, in the Russian's three contests with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, who many believe has the best jiu-jitsu in all of the heavyweight division, Fedor was able to avoid "Minotauro's" submissions and employ his brutal ground-and-pound.
Nonetheless, it's no secret that Fedor's gameplan will be to remain upright, stand and bang.
While Fedor has had success on the ground, his bread and butter is still the striking game. Emelianenko has often been criticized for his inability or unwillingness to evolve his MMA game, relying on the same striking game throughout his entire career. With his tendency to throw caution to the wind and engage in all out brawls, Fedor still possesses knockout power. And one well-placed punch from the Russian heavyweight can send any heavyweight tumbling down (see Brett Rogers and Andrei Arlovski, among others).
Much of the blame for his losses has been credited to his over-aggressiveness. Rushing in for the kill against Werdum and Dan Henderson ultimately led to his demise. The good news is he won't have to worry too much about the stand up of Monson and getting caught cold.
Should Monson manage to take it to the ground, I expect Fedor to survive his submission attempts and ultimately force it back to the feet. Look for Fedor to take his time with Monson, not be too aggressive and ultimately earn a technical knockout win in the second round, putting a halt to his losing streak.
Whether or not a victory over Monson resurrects Fedor's MMA career, don't expect Zuffa to be knocking on his door for an invitation back to Strikeforce or the UFC.
The co-main event of the evening will feature a lightweight title fight between reigning M-1 division champion Jose Figueroa taking on M-1 veteran Daniel Weichel.
Figueroa claimed the M-1 lightweight title in March of this year by knocking out Artiom Damkovsky at M-1 Challenge 24: "Damkovsky vs. Figueroa," in the second round. Figueroa is looking to make it four straight as he takes on the German kickboxing standout.
Weichel, who has mixed it up with some of the best, including Dan Hardy, Paul Daley and Thiago Tavares, is currently riding a four fight win streak. He will look to utilize his stand up skills to make it four-for-four under the M-1 promotion.
Figueroa has shown in the past to be comfortable both on the ground and in the stand up game, but look for him to take it to the ground should Weichel find success early on the feet.
In what should be a great back and forth battle, Figueroa will grind out a tough decision and hold on to his title.
170 lbs.: Aleksander Yakovlev (12-3) vs. Juan Manuel "Juanma" Suarez (8-0)
In a battle of welterweight prospects, 27-year-old Aleksander Yakovlev takes on undefeated Juan Manuel Suarez.
Yaklovlev, a four-time M-1 veteran, is riding a four-fight win streak into the bout. He will face one of his toughest challenges to date as he takes on the very tough Spaniard, Suarez.
Suarez is coming off a first round win over Raymond Jarman in August. The fight lasted less than one minute as Suarez connected early and often to earn a technical knockout victory. Juarez has exhibited great stand up skills to go along with an equally impressive ground game.
Winning his last six fights via submission, Yakovlev will look to take it to the ground and avoid the striking game that Suarez brings to the table. If Juarez can avoid the takedown, look for him to look for the knockout early.
Suarez' undefeated streak will come to an end as Yaklov will out-grapple the crafty Spaniard and eventually take it to the ground and earn a second round submission victory.
170 lbs.: Mairbek "Beckan" Taisumov (15-3) vs. Josh Thorpe (11-6)
Taisumov was once one of the fastest rising European fighters, riding a seven-fight win streak before losing to Artiom Damkovksy last year at M-1 Challenge 21 via stoppage because of a cut. He has since gone on to start another streak and is currently at three in a row.
After losing three straight, Josh Thorpe recently picked up a victory over Scott McAfee three weeks ago at Arctic combat 11.
Thorpe has been very inconsistent throughout his MMA career. Expect Taisumov to pick apart Thorpe in the stand up department and eventually earn a knockout victory in the very first round, extending his winning streak to four in the process.
185 lbs.: Arthur Guseinov (9-2) vs. Xavier "Professor X" Foupa-Pokam (21-16)
Opening the main card is a middleweight clash between Arthur Guseinov taking on two time UFC veteran, Xavier Foupa-Pokam.
After beginning his career with seven straight victories, Guseinov hit small slump, getting submitted in consecutive fights. Since then, the Sambo specialist has racked up two straight, including a highlight reel spinning back fist knockout of Team Quest member Tyson Jeffries at M-1 26: "Bennet vs. Garner 2."
Losing seven of his last eight contests, it's safe to say that "Professor X" has seen better days. After racking up an impressive seven-fight win streak, "Professor X" was given a shot at the UFC, but was quickly shown the door out as he lost to Denis Kang and Drew Mcfedries in a span of one month. Specializing in Muay-Thai, the Parisian hasn't finished a fight since 2009 and has been finished in his last four fights.
Expect much of the same for Xavier as Guzeinov will utilize his grappling skills to take the fight to the ground and catch "Professor X" in a submission in the second round, bringing his losing streak to five.
That's a wrap for the M-1 Global: "Fedor vs. Monson" preview.
What do you think, will the once great Fedor return to his winning ways in hopes of resurrecting his MMA career? Or will the 40-year-old "Snowman" put the final nail in the coffin in what was a legendary career?
M-1 Global: "Fedor vs. Monson" will air ive at 7:30 a.m. ET on cable and/or satellite pay-per-view (PPV) via iN Demand, DIRECTV, DISH Network and Avail-TVN, for only $29.95. Former NFL player and veteran MMA/boxing announcer Benny Ricardo and former UFC veteran Jeremy Horn will call all the action ringside.
Too early? No worries.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE, blow-by-blow coverage of all the action, as well as pass along a complete results recap of the event shortly after it concludes on Sunday.
In the meantime, be sure to check out our complete M-1 Global: "Fedor vs. Monson" event archive, as well as the latest fight card and rumors, to get up-to-speed right here.