Former UFC heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier recently suggested that former PRIDE FC titleholder Fedor Emelianenko would have been “average at best” and perhaps “struggled” against mid-tier talent like Cheick Kongo if the promotion had been able to sign “The Last Emperor” after the fall of PRIDE.
Read those feather-ruffling comments right here.
“DC is making a huge mistake saying Fedor would have been average,” longtime referee “Big” John McCarthy said on his “Weighing In” podcast (transcribed by Bhavesh Purohit). “People said that DC was going to be average too, he wasn’t average and Fedor wouldn’t have been average. He was right when he said Fedor would have come in and he would have wrecked Brock Lesnar. He would have wrecked him. Wouldn’t even have been close.”
UFC President Dana White made a concerted effort to sign Emelianenko, even flying to remote islands to negotiate with the Russian’s management team, but neither side was willing to budge on co-promotion, killing this oft-teased super fight.
“Out of 10 fights against UFC champions, heavyweight champions, he was 8-1-1. Yeah, that’s a guy who’s gonna do average,” McCarthy continued. “Stop. You’re just sounding like you’re being a homer for the UFC when there’s no reason for it. You got to give due where due is deserved... He’s fought twice as much as you, dude, and take a look at his record... That will never be average.”
Maybe it’s time for another apology?
“Guys, let’s just put this out there. I absolutely love Fedor,” Cormier said on his personal YouTube channel (transcribed by Jed Meshew). “Let’s not make it anything that it isn’t. I didn’t say that 2005, 2004, 2004, 2006 Fedor couldn’t — 2007, 2008. I didn’t say that. I said in a window of 2009 to 2012, I didn’t think that he would be as good as he had shown to be prior. I don’t understand how this ruffled so many people’s feathers. Because it was proven, in that timeframe, that he wasn’t as effective. It’s that simple.”
Cormier nearly had an opportunity to fight Emelianenko in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix back in 2011 after filling in for the injured Alistair Overeem; however, “The Last Emperor” was upset by Brazilian behemoth Antonio Silva and bounced from the tourney.
“I still believe Fedor Emelianenko is the greatest heavyweight of all time,” Cormier continued. “I love Stipe. Stipe is the best UFC heavyweight of all time, but the wins Fedor had in PRIDE, over the likes of Nogueira and all those guys, Arlovski, hats off to you, bud. I don’t mind that. I like Fedor. The fact that he’s still fighting at 45 and knocking dudes out like he did Tim Johnson, hats off to the GOAT. I have no issues with the man. I’m talking about a specific window in which I don’t believe that he would be as effective as he was in the years earlier.”
Emelianenko, 45, improved to 40-6 (1 NC) after crushing Tim Johnson at Bellator 269 last weekend in Moscow, Russia. As for Cormier, 42, he retired in late 2020 with a record of 22-3 (1 NC) after suffering back-to-back losses to then-UFC heavyweight champion Stipe Miocic.