An unimpressive win over Jeff Monson does little to restore Fedor Emelianenko's prominence

Photo via M-1 Global

There's more Diet Dr. Pepper Cherry and Monster Absolutely Zero flowing through my veins than blood. The bags under my eyes are big enough for a family's weeklong vacation. Having to wake up every morning around 8 a.m. regardless of what time I fell asleep the night before only because my infant daughter decides to wake up then can be rough but it affords me -- and other parents in the same boat -- a few rare opportunities.

But while the others use that time to watch Good Morning America or whatever, I prefer to spend it doing something infinitely more satisfying like watching one of the greatest fighters in the history of mixed martial arts (MMA) throw down in his native Russia. 

Fedor Emelianenko stepped inside an M-1 Global ring early this morning (Nov. 20) for his first fight since losing three straight and cutting ties with Strikeforce. The Russian himself said he considered retirement before his bout with Fabricio Werdum while pundits and fans began pushing the issue after Emelianenko was brutalized by Antonio Silva and Dan Henderson.

He, however, remains in the game and defeated former UFC heavyweight title challenger Jeff Monson in the main event to get himself back in the win column. On paper, it's a step in the right direction but the execution was something else entirely.

So the question must be asked: has the sun set on "The Last Emperor"?

For those in the United States who woke up early enough to watch the pay-per-view (PPV), they saw what essentially amounts to a repeat of Monson's fight with Daniel Cormier earlier this year in the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix. During that bout, the MMA newcomer stuck and move against the self-proclaimed anarchist, stuffing every single takedown "The Snowman" threw his way.

Emelianenko followed a similar gameplan almost to the letter and stymied Monson for 15 minutes while landing punches and leg kicks at will. For his part, the American did next to nothing offensively. A few takedown attempts were easily avoided or reversed and "The Snowman" offered no threat in the stand-up.

The matchmaking was scoffed at by many when announced and their reservations were proved correct when the fight played itself out. Monson is no longer a top caliber heavyweight at 40 years old with his best wins being two or three years behind him. He was defeated rather easily by Cormier who -- despite being an exceptional athlete -- gave up over a decade of experience to Monson.

And yet, despite Cormier's inexperience inside the cage, Emelianenko -- once holding steady at the top of heavyweight mountain -- couldn't manage to win in a more impressive fashion. After dropping Tim Sylvia with a punch and finishing him off with a choke and nearly decapitating Andrei Arlovski and Brett Rogers, "The Last Emperor" spent three rounds point fighting against an opponent he would have easily finished just a couple of years ago.

Following UFC 139 where Pride Fighting Championships stars Wanderlei Silva, Dan Henderson, and Mauricio Rua all impressed, Emelianenko's performance fell flat. Silva returned to his winning ways to defeating Cung Le -- and destroying his nose in the process -- while "Hendo" and "Shogun" battled back and forth in a fight many are already calling the best in the promotion's history.

Yes, Emelianenko won but he did so in a fashion that is so unlike him. The Fedor of old would have knocked Monson out or at least tried to take the American's arm back home to Stary Oskol with him. The man standing inside the ring this morning was content merely to get backstage with a win under his belt.

And that betrays his legacy -- that of one of the greatest fighters to ever live -- more than three consecutive losses ever could. "The Last Emperor" reigned over the greatest collection of heavyweights the sport has ever seen and walked away with an unblemished record. He did so with punishing ground and pound, savvy striking, and python-like submissions. None of those attributes were on display this morning.

What a shame.

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