- UFC president Dana White explained why he still thinks Fedor Emelianenko is not MMA’s heavyweight GOAT
- “The Last Emperor” has announced his retirement after a TKO loss to Ryan Bader
MMA pioneer Fedor Emelianenko has often been widely regarded as the greatest heavyweight fighter of all time. UFC president Dana White never acknowledged it and not one bit has changed in his stance until now that Emelianenko has retired.
All-time great but not the greatest
Speaking to reporters at his UFC Vegas 68 press conference, White was quizzed to comment on Emelianenko’s retirement following his farewell fight loss to Ryan Bader at Bellator 290 and his apparent GOAT status. According to White, he didn’t want to be rude on “The Last Emperor,” especially on the day of his retirement but to say that he’s the heavyweight GOAT without competing and winning in the UFC is a big NO.
“I don’t wanna s**t on the guy. You know, he’s retiring tonight and all that stuff. I mean, you guys know the old interviews with me… I mean, he got knocked out by middleweight Dan Henderson. You know what I mean? I think some of the guys in the business [and] people liked him. So, they praised him. He never got to test himself over here. But I never was one of the guys that thought he was one of the greatest of all time,” White said of Fedor.
White hasn’t shied away from saying he was never a fan of Emelianenko. It is widely believed that Emelianenko’s refusal to join the UFC several years ago has played a huge role in it.
The Last Emperor says goodbye
At 46, Emelianenko seemed decided to call it quits. Prior to his fight with Bader, “The Last Emperor” already announced that it would be the last time people will see him inside the cage. And after the fight, Emelianenko’s fellow MMA legends gathered inside the cage to join him as he finally hangs his gloves.
Fedor Emelianenko lays down his gloves surrounded by legends!
— SHOWTIME SPORTS (@SHOsports) February 5, 2023
Emelianenko may have not fought under the UFC banner but his resume speaks volumes about his greatness. He is a multi-time Russian, European, and World Combat Sambo champion and has been a pro MMA fighter since 2000. It didn’t take long for Emelianenko to make waves in MMA, winning titles at Pride and later at Strikeforce.
And while it is true that “The Last Emperor” never had the chance to test himself in the UFC, he has beaten an array of celebrated fighters and champions of the promotion, including Andre Arlovski, Tim Sylvia, Mark Hunt, Frank Mir, Mirko Cro Cop and Mark Coleman.
Emelianenko ended his legendary MMA career with a record of 40-7-1.