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After losing three consecutive fights to Fabricio Werdum, Antonio Silva and Dan Henderson, Fedor Emelianenko seemed to have taken a fall from grace after a decade-long rung of being undefeated and consistently being at the top of the pound-for-pound list.
After he suffered his three consecutive losses, which all came under the Strikeforce banner, nearly everyone -- fans and media alike -- from within the mixed martial arts (MMA) community dropped their two cents on the credibility of the Russian's resume and overall status as a legit contender in the heavyweight division.
While Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) President Dana White, who has never been sold on the legitimacy of Fedor's wins and mythical aura, for that matter, isn't too high on "The Last Emperor," there is one man who has nothing but high praise for Fedor.
That man is none other than the boxing legend "Iron" Mike Tyson, one of the most feared strikers in combat sports history, who says Emelianenko is his favorite MMA fighter of all time.
Speaking to "Inside MMA," Tyson talks about the admiration he has for Fedor and what he feels went wrong in his career.
Check it out:
"Fedor Emelianenko, my favorite of all time...He's always been the underdog, he's always the smallest guy and he always comes out victorious. He just stayed around too long in the age of high performance [-enhancing] drugs, bigger athletes. I've just never seen an athlete like him, as far as a fighting athlete, that beat the odds so many times. From a guy that just loves him from a human perspective, I don't want to see him get hurt anymore, you know? He didn't get hurt, but those guys could have hurt him, the big guy that was hitting him, "Bigfoot" (Antonio Silva). I don't like to see that. A guy that's been in there so long, and he's not the same as he used to be and you see him getting beat up, oh man that's a bad feeling."
At one point during Emelianenko's illustrious career, he rattled off 27 consecutive victories, before running into Brazilian jiu-jitsu (BJJ) black belt Fabricio Werdum at Strikeforce: "Fedor vs. Werdum" in 2009.
The submission wizard caught Fedor in a triangle choke early in the first round, which forced the tap a minute and nine seconds into the opening frame after being floored early by the Russian.
The defeat marked the first true loss on Fedor's record.Emelianenko returned to his winning ways when he defeated multiple time Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) tournament winner Jeff Monson, in his home country of Russia on Nov. 20, 2011, via unanimous decision.
Fedor followed up the impressive performance just one month later on New Year's Eve by defeating Olympic Judo Gold medalist winner Satoshi Ishii via first round knockout at Fight For Japan: Genki Desu Ka 2011.
Despite his impressive MMA record of 33-4 (1 NC), and recent resurgence, some will still feel the need to place an asterisk his accomplishments because of the fact that he never competed inside the UFC's Octagon.
Maybe, just maybe, he, along with the M-1 head honcho's can find common ground with UFC officials to bring him into the mix before he hangs up his gloves for good.
Or, before he takes on Tyson in a Japan-based New Year's Eve weekend freakshow fight.