The long and historic career of Russian heavyweight star Fedor Emelianenko was filled with moments where he fought back from the brink of defeat, only to vanquish a bigger foe. But every great runs out of comebacks at some point, and for the second fight in a row, Emelianenko could not find the magic that had been the hallmark of his legendary run.
Emelianenko took a hellacious pounding in the second round of his Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix opening round fight against Antonio Silva and though he managed to survive the beating, it might have been the last round of his career. In between rounds, the fight was stopped due to swelling around his right eye that compromised his vision, and after dropping his second straight fight, Emelianenko admitted he might have fought for the last time.
“Yes, maybe it’s the last time,” the 34-year-old said moments after the fight. “Maybe it’s high time. Thank God for everything. I spent a great, beautiful long sporting life. Maybe it’s God’s will.”
If it is the end, Emelianenko (32-3, 1 no contest) will retire as the most decorated heavyweight of all time.
Some, however, seemed to think that calling it the end was a little premature.
Both Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker and M-1 Global president Vadim Finkelstein said they believe Emelianenko would reconsider his words after he had time to get over the loss. Emelianenko didn’t attend the post-fight press conference in order to visit the hospital for a possible orbital bone fracture.
“The decision is up to Fedor but I think I know him quite well, and he’s full of strength,” Finkelstein said. “He will continue, but the decision is up to him. I will encourage him. He still has a lot to show his fans, and he will show them.”
“As far as retirement, he talked about it, but you know how that goes,” Coker said. “People get very emotional during the fight. We’ll see. But my position is we have many more fights with Fedor and I think he’ll honor his contract.”