On Saturday, November 7, Fedor Emelianenko proved one more time that he is the best fighter in the world by knocking out the undefeated Brett Rogers in the second round. For the first time in Russian history, the First Channel (main government TV station) showed an MMA fight, just 12 hours after CBS aired it live in America. As Fedor Emelianenko said in his post-fight interview, he was "more popular in America than in Russia;" his manager added "not anymore." Russians prefer box to the brutal and bloody Mixed Martial Arts, but Fedor's victory was impossible to ignore. When asked about the reasons of his victory, Fedor answered: "Millions of Russian Orthodox Christians prayed for me. It is their victory, not mine."
Brett Rogers, a Chicago native, was the underdog of the fight in his own hometown. Fedor Emelianenko was the celebrity and the favorite of the crowd that came to see the Strikeforce-M1 fight at the Chicago's Sears Centre Arena. My personal experience watching the fight was unique, as I watched the match at a bar in Nashville, TN. Dozens of American Southerners came to a local establishment to support... the Russian! Could one imagine just 20 years ago that a Southern crowd would be cheering to the images of a Russian beating the crap out of an American. Rocky, indeed, is an outdated material. Now, one can only hope that politicians in Moscow and Washington would catch up with the times...
After the fight, the first people from Fedor's camp who came out onto the mat were long-bearded Orthodox priests from Fedor's village. Fedor wrapped himself in a Russian flag and put a giant wooden cross on his neck. My American bartender poured me a free drink to celebrate Fedor's victory and asked where Fedor was from. I said "from the Russian version of East Tennessee." The fable-like Russian fighter is a loving father, strong believer, and the most dangerous heavyweight fighter in world history.
Read the ESPN coverage of the fight in the extended post.
HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. -- Fedor Emelianenko left the Sears Centre Arena on Saturday with the moniker of world's No. 1 heavyweight still intact, but it did not come without a struggle.
Previously undefeated Brett Rogers gave the Russian legend his toughest fight in recent years at Strikeforce/M-1 Global "Fedor vs. Rogers," but Emelianenko prevailed with a dead-on right hook that cracked Rogers' chin and then pounced on his larger foe with crushing follow-up punches. Referee John McCarthy halted the melee 1 minute, 48 seconds into the second round.
After attending the postfight press conference, Emelianenko was sent to local hospital with a broken nose and an injured left hand.
The first exchange -- a looping right and left from Emelianenko and a sneaky left from the burly Minnesotan that snuck under the Russian's right arm -- shattered the Russian's nose.
Emelianenko struck and grabbed Rogers for the first of a few key clinches, then tossed the 265-pound fighter to the canvas as if he were 50 pounds lighter. Rogers wisely rushed to his feet before Emelianenko could snag an appendage.
Rogers was hardly ready to quit, though. Pushing Emelianenko to the fence, he stalled the former Pride champion, as blood trickled down his face.
Emelianenko then sent Rogers backwards with a right before taking him down. As the Russian maneuvered for a keylock, Rogers used his strength and size to turn the tables and gain top position. His opening upon him, Rogers unloaded with hard punches before Emelianenko gained his bearings. Emelianenko reversed to the top position again and trapped Rogers' arm against his head for an arm-triangle choke. Rogers recovered guard when Emelianenko attempted to pass from half guard. The bell sounded with a much closer round than most would have expected.
"The main thing is not to be nervous, to take some time during the first round to learn a little bit [about] the opponent and then to look for some [weakness] and then to use it," Emelianenko said through an interpreter.
In the second round, Emelianenko's hands began to fly with shocking speed and accuracy. Rogers defended at first before the stunning hook found its home and signaled the beginning of the end for the Minnesotan, who tasted defeat for the first time.