At the pre-fight press conference for UFC 133: "Evans vs. Ortiz," Dana White did something unprecedented in the world of mixed martial arts (MMA).
He fired Fedor Emelianenko.
"The Last Emperor" -- once heralded as the greatest heavyweight on the planet -- had called five different promotions home during his decade long career. But each time, he either walked away or the promotion folded.
Not so the case with Strikeforce. While the San Jose-based company has seemed to be on life support ever since its acquistion by UFC parent company Zuffa, it is still planning for the future. A total of three cards are planned over the next two months.
But Emelianenko won't have a part in any of them.
Is this a de facto retirement for the Russian? Will he accept his dismissal and look at it as cause to hang up his four ounce gloves once and for all? Or will we see the former Pride heavyweight champ step into a ring or cage at least one more time?
Let's weigh out his options.
Retirement: 3 to 1
Calling it a day seems far-fetched when you think about how just a few short years ago, Emelianenko seemed unbeatable.
But three consecutive losses combined with turning 35-years-old next month make it a very real possibility.
And let's face facts: he hinted at cashing in after the beating Antonio Silva gave him. He recanted later, saying he was speaking out of emotion in the moment but no fighter who feels they still have something left to gain or to prove inside the cage allows the thought of retiring to even enter the mind.
He also said he considered retirement after his loss to Fabricio Werdum. He had a lingering hand injury for years and on top of that, carried the wear and tear of 10-plus years of fighting -- at the highest level, mind you -- on his body.
"The Last Emperor" seems weary. He appears to be tired. He sounds as if he's ready to step down.
Back to Japan: 4 to 1
If only for one more fight.
Japan loves them some Fedor. That's where the Russian achieved his greatest success and earned most of his money.
He spent nearly seven years fighting in the Land of the Rising Sun for RINGS, Pride FC, and the like so it's no stretch to think that the country will come calling once more, especially for a bout on one of the traditional New Year's Eve shows.
The Japanese fight market is floundering right now, that much is certain. A giant Shockwave-esque card -- stacked top to bottom with high-ranked and popular fighters -- headlined by Emelianenko might be exactly the shot in the arm it needs to regain some of its past glory.
The only problem is who to match the Russian up with. All of the surefire draws from years past -- fighters like Hidehiko Yoshida, Kazushi Sakuraba, etc. -- are either retired or on the last legs of their careers. Japan's great hope -- Satoshi Ishii -- proved to be anything but and has abandoned the sport altogether after only five bouts.
M-1 Global Shows in Russia/eastern Europe: 2 to 1
Almost no one outside of the M-1 Global company has anything good to say about the way they do business. From outrageous requests to demanding contract negotiations at the drop of a hat, the promotion -- owned in part by Emelianenko -- has done itself no favors in winning over fans.
They're seen as parasites, latched onto the career of a fighter who doesn't need them and who otherwise could have possibly achieved even greater accomplishments.
If that's the case, they won't let their prize bull get put out to pasture so easily. While the company's exposure stateside is minimal -- relegated to co-promotion with Strikeforce on cards Emelianenko is fighting on and a few events on Showtime -- they are constantly putting on shows in Russian, Ukraine, and the like.
It would be no shock to see "The Last Emperor" headlining a few of these shows -- either in competitive or exhibition bouts -- against a new breed of heavyweights that M-1 will be looking to send to the next level.
One thing not to overlook is that while the Russian has been released of his contract with Strikeforce, he still is inked to Showtime who, as stated above, are giving M-1 Global airtime now.
Superfight with Alistair Overeem: 5 to 1
When it was announced that Emelianenko had signed to Strikeforce, it was the fight that everyone wanted to see. When he booked against Werdum and Overeem against Brett Rogers, fans e-rioted.
And they nearly did again when the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix was announced and the two weren't opposite each other in the first round. They were, however, in the same bracket and were on course for a semi-finals bout which seemed all but inevitable.
"Ubereem" did his part by dispatching of Werdum but "The Last Emperor" fell short against "Bigfoot." It seemed like we would never see the heavyweight clash we pined over for so long.
But in less than a week, both fighters find themselves on the outside looking in. Overeem was released last Friday (July 29) and today, six days later, Emelianenko's release from his Strikeforce contract was also confirmed.
So why are the odds so stacked against the two flipping the bird to Dana White and taking their superfight to another organization?
Well, Golden Glory -- who represents the K-1 champ -- does not play well with M-1. They traded barbs back and forth over accusations of juicing more recently but the bad blood goes all the way back to Japan and the demise of Pride due to allegations of yakuza ties.
There's a lot of ugly history between Bas Boon -- who runs Golden Glory -- and Vadim Finkelstein -- who runs M-1 Global -- and it's unlikely that they put that aside for the sake of one fight, despite how much money they could make.
So what say you, Maniacs?
What does the future hold for the recently unemployed Fedor Emelianenko?