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Anyone who knows anything about mixed martial arts is familiar with Fedor Emelianenko. He is by all counts, the most feared fighter in the world. He’s so good, that there are videos on YouTube showing when Fedor almost lost. It’s interesting to see how men nearly beat this Fedor.

I’ve analyzed video of Fedor, hoping to mine some secrets. For one thing, I must emphasize Fedor’s unmatched technical skill. Fedor is rated a Master of Sports–the highest rating of athletic achievement in Russia– in Sambo, a Russian version of grappling which emphasizes takedowns and leg locks. There is no position that he finds himself in that he does not have an escape or counter for. He is a master of locks, chokes, reversals, punching and position.

I noticed form the beginning that Fedor has obviously received training in Russian professional boxing methods. I learned several years ago how the Russians strike differently, and I believe more effectively. I watched some videos by Sambo master Scott Sonnon, as he demonstrated Russian strikes, how they maximize power while using less energy than standard Western striking techniques. They rely primarily on body elasticity and hip rotation as opposed to muscular strength and effort. There is a sight difference in elbow angle and the near-slapping motion creates a “pneumatic wave effect” in body tissue and fluid. Over time, these punches, even when delivered to the body, wear an opponent down–and they hurt like hell. He also incorporates a couple of movements that I’m familiar with as being distinctly Russian in their application to the striker: The knuckle pushup and the pullup for high reps. The knuckle pushup “greases the groove” of a proper punch while building strength and endurance for the proper muscles. It also teaches one to relax in the punch. The pullup builds strength and endurance in an under appreciated muscle used in punch: The Latissimus  Dorsi.

Look here for some of his training techniques:

You can see that Fedor trains in a wilderness retreat of sorts. The Russians often take a holistic view of training, one that I myself use. I like to train outside and alone, away from staring eyes, so that I don’t have to be self-conscience about some of the things I do. It allows me to focus and the sounds and smells of the outdoors inspire vigor and awaken something of our primal state. It feels like a vacation and meditation wrapped into one, but at the same time you’re getting work done.

Fedor’s explosiveness and conditioning are unmatched in the heavyweight class. I’ve never seen him gas out. His arms are almost always in the proper defensive position, but one thing I must talk about is that Fedor is not defensive.

Defense is overrated in that it does not knock out opponents. Defense must last only long enough that it enable a fighter to take the initiative and commit to offense. And Fedor never fails to take the initiative. He doesn’t simply bring his arms arms and back to the ropes. He counters, he takes down, he grabs a leg that just kicked. And then he unleashes a cascade of incredibly fast punches, causing his opponent to cover up and risk a submission lock.

So, to break down the primary reasons that Fedor is the greatest fighter on Earth:

1) The best arsenal of techniques of any fighter I know of. Strikes, submissions–anything.

2) Mental attitude. Calm, intelligent and hardworking, possessed of incredible humility. One quote fom Fedor stands out in my mind: “I just want to be useful to people.” He was speaking of the fact that now he is famous, he has helped his family, who was very poor before his fame. He is also, like many Russians, a very spiritual person.

3) Controlled aggression. Not a brawler, Fedor waits for his split-second opening then explodes with a ferocity unmatched in MMA. He doesn’t wait too long and is constantly working on damaging his opponent. The guard position is next to useless–and possibly and very bad position–against Fedor, because his ground and pound is absolute Hell on those that think they can lay on their backs.

4) An uncanny ability to escape and counter. Kevin Randleman suplexed him onto his head. Anyone watching that moment may think someone was ging to die. But Fedor acted as if he’d been hit with a flyswatter and immediately submitted Randleman with a Kimura. When Fedor applies a lock to his opponent, it almost always sticks; his opponents however find Fedor slipping through their fingers like sand.

It’s too bad that Fedor in’t in the UFC. I’d like to see him destroy  the Brock Lesnar sham once and for all.


5 thoughts on “Fedor

    Bill said:
    August 4, 2009 at 6:29 am

    I really enjoyed this post D – but I’m curious about your stateement on defense. Is your belief that defense is overrated specific to Fedor or fighters like him or do you thinik that’s the case in general? You definitely strike me as someone who’s about precision and control so I’m surprised that you think defense is overrated. I’m just thinking that counterpunching or countering in gnereal lets guys with reach disadvantages bridge the gap. It allows them to get in and often take their pick of punches instead of having to rely on a jab. Similarly when done right someone with less reach can land effective combos that result in knock downs if not ko’s. This is more the case with Boxing I guess so maybe my argument is too pedantic to be meaningful 😉

    Regarding Fedor in general though – i entirely agree with your analysis. His coolness is unequalled and it’s got to be daunting as hell to be staring at someone like that. In silence of the lambs Hannibal supposedely bit off a nurses nose or something and his pulse never went about 50 (I’m probably off by a little but i’m in the general ball park) – that’s what he reminds me of most of the time when he’s fighting. With respect to #4, that was an amazing bout. After seeing him get up I wondered if he’s not one of those people you hear about that gets shot and keeps coming. He’s definitely a bad ass

    kernunos said:
    August 4, 2009 at 6:53 am

    Fedor is usually outreached by all his opponents as he is only 6 feet tall. One of the things you will notice about Fedor’s fights is he has a few that look like he is going to lose as in
    Randleman(Randleman fought a great fight) but shortly after he wins the fight somehow. Watch his fights and note this. I think it points to a very strong fight or flight mechanism in Fedor that says FIGHT when he has to. He looks to have a very powerful adrenalin response in my opinion.

    Fedor’s current contract runs out soon. Look for the UFC to go after him in a crazy way.

    magus71 responded:
    August 4, 2009 at 6:17 pm


    A better way of stating my thoughts on defense would be the old: The best defense is a good offense, line.

    For one thing, it’s tougher for your opponent to damage you if you’re doing damage to him. As far as countering goes, I consider this offense. What I mean by defense is, for instance, putting your guard (arms) up or foot movement, bobbing and weaving etc. Fedor immediately commits to offense once he has defended. Some fighters just keep trying to block or dodge as long as their opponent is attacking, instead of interrupting the attack with a counter or takedwn or even a clinch. Fedor will usually clinch then sweep a leg.

    Look at some of Tito Ortiz’ losses. Ortiz is huge and a while back before he was expiring himself on Jenna Jamison, had the best cardio of any heavy weight. His ground and pound was awesome, and earned him a title. But his weakness was a tendency to cover up and stay covered up. Once a punch landed on him, he’d put his guard up and stay that way for too long. His guard was great–high and tight–but it won’t stop everything if you don’t do something to stop your opponent–like hit him.

    Heck, most of the UFC guys don’t even know how to use footwork as defense; they circle the wrong way. You’re supposed to circle away from your opponent’s strong side. But watch them, they almost all circle to their opponent’s right, except for the best like Silva.

    As for the best defense, I think it’s a good ground and pound. Get on top and strike. You add to your power and take away from the other guy’s. That’s the problem with a few guys who are really good at the stand-up game like Rich Franklin, Chuck Liddell and Andrei Arlovski. These guys are great kickboxers, but if your opponent is standing he always has a chance of severely hurting you, a better chance than on the ground. These fighters, even when their opponent was severely weakened by strikes would actually back off and start the process over again instead of closing the gap, taking the man down, and pummeling him. Over a career this takes its toll, and once great fighters like Arlovski and Liddell and grown soft chins from taking so many hits.

    Bill said:
    August 5, 2009 at 6:15 am

    I had a feeling I might have misunderstood your point and yep, I definitely did. Reading through it – gotta agree with both you and Kernunos. The Youtube vids you’ve posted recently of fighters have all been freaking classic and represent people that are truly amazing. I’m a big UFC fan and keep up with the latest bouts but it’s always cool to see older fights or different leagues – keep em coming brotha 😉

    Amos Volante said:
    August 6, 2009 at 12:36 am

    Gotta vote with D-Dog on offense. Defense won’t win a fight, even though we’ve all seen a defensive error cost these guys at this level a major fight, sometimes even a title.

    There are some classic UFC fights where a fighter with a flawless defense, but insufficient offense gets chased around the ring then loses by decision.

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