I was doing some cleaning Sunday afternoon and happened to come upon a stack of old ESPN The Magazines from 2007.
After flipping through a couple, I happened upon a Bill Simmons column entitled: "Remember greatness, because someday, someone will try to tell you it wasn't." All I could think of is, "Wow, how appropriate."
In the column, Simmons details the stats of NBA great John Havlicek and how he is seemingly a forgotten man in the shuffle of all-time NBA greats. Simmons asks, "Does greatness have a shelf live?"
Simmons was referring to 20-30 years down the line, but in a sport like mixed martial arts, which doesn't even have that much history period, things are viewed and skewed a little differently.
Now, of course, all this is relevant because of Fedor Emelianenko's submission loss to Fabricio Werdum last night at "Strikeforce/M-1 Global: Fedor vs. Werdum" at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif.
Although I don't think it's fair to compare Emelianenko's career in the sphere of mixed martial arts to Havlicek's NBA career, because Emelianenko clearly is at the top of the game, the title of Simmons' column already is ringing true because people already are downgrading Emelianenko because of one loss.This is one of my greatest pet peeves about sports fans, and more particularly mixed martial arts fans. I have never seen bigger bandwagon jumpers in my time as a lifelong sports fan than those "fans" of mixed martial arts fighters.
People were touting Gegard Mousasi as the next big thing in mixed martial arts. He loses one fight (one that was an incredibly bad matchup for him) and now he sucks and you have not heard a single word about him in the last two months.
The list goes on and on and on and will continue to go on. And guess what? Good fighters rebound. How many people wrote Mauricio Rua off after losing to Forrest Griffin and beating Mark Coleman? Now look where he is.
The person Shogun rebounded off of, Lyoto Machida, now sucks and is overrated because he got knocked out in the first round. Chuck Liddell was a product of his matchups. Tito Ortiz is a never-was. I could go on and on.
MMA fans like to deal in revisionist history, either ignorant of what happened in the past or just unwilling to accept a loss from their "favorite" fighter.
Emelianenko's loss doesn't erase the fact that he is the top heavyweight of all time without question. That is not even up for debate. He beat the No. 2 and No. 3 best heavyweights of all time (Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Mirko CroCop) decisively. And right now, he is without question the greatest mixed martial artist of all time. Will that be the case in five years? Ten years? Chances are no, because people currently blazing their own trail (Anderson Silva and Georges St-Pierre, namely) aren't done yet. But right now, on June 27, 2010, Fedor Emelianenko is the best of all-time. Saturday's loss doesn't change that fact.
What's important to remember, is that no matter what happens to Emelianenko going forward, is that he was the most dominant mixed martial artist of this era. The loss of "perfection" shouldn't define Emelianenko's career, nor should it have people running for the hills because they can't get far enough away from the bandwagon. The man lost, and no matter where you rank him, it doesn't take away from the fact that he has had one of the greatest careers in MMA history.