One of the most popular debates among MMA fans is the debate concerning who is the best pound for pound fighter in the world. Recently the debate has really turned into a 2 horse race between the current UFC Middleweight champion Anderson “The Spider” Silva, and former PRIDE Heavyweight champion, and current WAMMA Heavyweight champion, Fedor Emelianenko(Although you will occasionally come across a fan singing the praises of George St. Pierre or BJ Penn…Or even in some cases, Urijah Faber). So who really is in fact, the best fighter in the world? The answer unfortunately, is not a simple, or a clear cut one.
For years, Fedor was considered as the near unanimous choice for this honour among the more knowledgeable fans, but in the last 2 years Anderson Silva has left a path of destruction through the UFC’s Middleweight division that has been so impressive, and I would imagine, so terrifying to his fellow competitors, that it’s simply impossible to ignore the man they fittingly call “The Spider” any longer. Since joining the UFC in June of 2006, Silva has absolutely decimated every fighter placed in front of him. Of his 7 fights in the UFC, only 3 times have his opponents made it out of the 1st round(Travis Lutter, Rich Franklin the 2nd time around, and Dan Henderson), and none of those opponents were able to withstand another 5 minutes of Silva’s onslaught. It’s come to the point where he has virtually cleaned out the Middleweight division in the UFC, and has already moved up once to fight at Light Heavyweight, a much more stacked division then Middleweight, and if he’s able to continue his dominance against the handful of contenders left at Middleweight (A title defence @ UFC 90 in Chicago against the Canadian Patrick Cote looms in October), could very well move up to Light Heavyweight permanently within the next year or so.
As for Silva’s stats, his current record sits at 22 wins, with 4 losses. His most recent loss coming against the Japanese fighter Yushin Okami, at Rumble On The Rock 8 in January 2006, although Silva was never actually beaten in this fight. The loss was a result of an illegal kick by Silva. Okami was given time to recover from the kick, but stated he could not continue, and thus Silva was hit with the disqualification loss (Silva has voiced his displeasure with Okami over this, stating that he believes Okami could have continued, but he simply did not want to fight him). Aside from this, his last loss came at PRIDE Shockwave 2004, to current UFC Welterweight fighter Ryo Chonan. Chonan caught Silva by surprise and pulled off a highlight reel flying heel hook, which caused The Spider to tap midway through the 3rd and final round. Silva is the current UFC Middleweight champion and former Cage Rage World Middleweight champion.
On the other side of this debate is a man who has become an almost mythical figure in the sport over his career, the Russian fighter; Fedor Emelianenko. Nobody has ever questioned Fedor’s ability (Outside of Dana White, but it’s become nearly impossible to take anything that man says seriously anymore), but what they have questioned is Fedor’s lack of fights against top notch competition over the last few years, which is a legitimate criticism. Over the last 3 years Fedor has fought the likes of Mark Coleman, Mark Hunt, Zuluzinho, Matt Lindland, Hong-Man Choi and Tim Sylvia, the 2-time UFC Heavyweight champion. Sylvia aside, this is not exactly a “Who’s Who” list of heavyweight contenders. Matt Lindland is a legitimate top notch fighter at his natural weight class, which is Middleweight, but it would be hard to imagine a man his size could pose a real serious challenge at Heavyweight. Mark Hunt is a former K-I Kickboxing champion with a granite chin, and as you would expect, fares very well in mixed martial arts, so long as he keeps his fights standing. As soon as Hunt is forced to leave his feet, he has proven to be completely out of his element, with all 4 of his losses coming via submission.
With Silva’s 2 year rampage through the UFC’s middleweight division, and Fedor’s relative inactivity, and when he was active, his bouts against mostly middle tier fighters and fighters fighting out of their weight class, it had become well accepted that Silva was the best pound for pound fighter in the world today. That all changed on July 19th, 2008. At Affliction’s inaugural show, headlined by Fedor and former UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia, Fedor knocked Sylvia down with a flurry of punches, got his back, and choked out the former champion, all within a time span of 36 seconds. With that victory, Fedor secured his grip on the title of the “The Best Heavyweight Fighter on the Planet”, and once again swung the doors for the Pound For Pound debate wide open.
As for his career accomplishments, Fedor’s list is unmatched in mixed martial arts today:
<!--[if !supportLists]-->- <!--[endif]-->2001 RINGS Heavyweight Tournament Winner
<!--[if !supportLists]-->- <!--[endif]-->2002 RINGS Open Weight Tournament Winner
<!--[if !supportLists]-->- <!--[endif]-->2004 PRIDE Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament Winner
<!--[if !supportLists]-->- <!--[endif]-->PRIDE Heavyweight World Champion(March 2003-PRIDE’s demise)
<!--[if !supportLists]-->- <!--[endif]-->WAMMA Heavyweight World Champion(July 2008-Present)
And this isn’t even counting his countless Sambo championships.
His record currently stands at 29 wins, 1 loss, and 1 no contest. The no contest coming in the finals of the 2004 PRIDE Heavyweight Grand Prix finals, against former PRIDE Heavyweight champion, and current UFC Heavyweight champion, Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira. It came as a result of an accidental head butt delivered by Fedor, which opened a cut above his own eye which, which caused a stoppage to the fight, and resulted in a no contest. Fedor would later win the rematch at PRIDE Shockwave 2004. The only blemish on his record came against Tsuyoshi Kohsaka in the semi finals of the RINGS King of Kings tournament in 2000. Having already fought Ricardo Arona earlier in the night and earning a decision victory, Fedor was next matched up against Kohsaka in the semi finals, with the winner earning the right to face Randy Couture in the finals. Only 17 seconds into the 1st round though, Kohsaka struck Fedor with a grazing elbow that re-opened a cut above his eye that he had originally received earlier in the night against Arona. The cut was so bad that the referee had to call a stop to the contest, and Kohsaka was named the victor. He went on to lose to Couture in the finals 2 months later.
Fedor later avenged this loss nearly 5 years later at PRIDE Bushido 6, with Kohsaka being unable to continue after the 1st round.
With all that said, who is in fact the best pound for pound fighter in the world? Honestly, I can not say. Over the span of their career’s, there is no question that Fedor has been the better fighter, but on the flip side, Silva has looked extremely impressive over the past 2 years, blowing through competition that has been for the most part, far superior to what Fedor has been fighting. Lately Fedor’s fought mainly fighters a step below the quality of Anderson’s, but has shown he can really turn it on when he has to, and over his career has almost always looked nearly unbeatable. Silva on the other hand, while incredibly dominant now, suffered some losses early on his career that proved that while he was extremely talented and extremely dangerous, he was still beatable. If you take a stance too look at their career’s as a whole, Fedor has been the best. If you take the stance of “What have you done for me lately?” Silva is the choice. Taking both into consideration though? It’s just too close to call here people. I think we’ll just all have to agree that we are currently watching 2 guys who no matter what they do from here on out, will go down in history as true legends of the sport.