7.23.2008

Who really is the number one pound for pound MMA fighter in the world?

As countless people have stated (myself and Puddin’ included) this past weekend was an historic weekend for MMA. By the way, I went 7-4 in my UFC picks and 10-2 in my Affliction picks, so at least I posted better than 50%.

Given everything that I’ve seen since the two events about whether Fedor Emelianenko is better than Anderson Silva, I’ve decided to offer up my own analysis of who truly is the best pound for pound (P4P) fighter in the world.



SOME BASIC INFO

Fedor Emelianenko
6 Feet Tall, 230 pounds, 31 years old
Nickname: The Last Emperor
26-1 Record (1 No Contest)
Trains out of the Red Devil Sport Club in Russia
Training background: Sambo and Judo
Won World Combat Sambo Championship 4 times, and medaled in the Russian National Judo Championship once.
Was Heavyweight champion in Pride fighting organization when it disbanded in 2006
Current World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts (WAMMA) Champion

Anderson Silva
6 Feet 2 Inches Tall, 185 pounds, 33 years old
Nickname: The Spider
22-4 Record
Trains out of Team Nogueira MMA Academy in Miami (which Silva co-owns with UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira), formerly with the Black House fight team, and prior to that, Chute Boxe.
Current UFC Middleweight Champion
Will coach alongside Lyoto Machida and Antonio Nogueira in the upcoming season of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show.

QUALITY OF MOST RECENT OPPONENT

FEDOR VS. SYLVIA
Sylvia outweighed Fedor by 35 pounds and is eight inches taller.
Sylvia (now) has a record of 26-6
Sylvia is a former UFC Heavyweight Champion.
Sylvia has beaten such fighters as Andre Arlovski, Brandon Vera, Jeff Monson, Assuerio Silva, Ricco Rodriguez (when he wasn’t a washed up drunk), Jason Lambert, Ben Rothwell, and Mike Whitehead.

SILVA VS. IRVIN
Irvin and Silva were within a pound of each other at the weigh-in, but since both likely put on at least 15-20 pounds after the weigh-in, there is no telling who weighed more going in.
Irvin (now) has a record of 14-5.
Irvin has beaten such fighters as Houston Alexander, Terry Martin, Bo Cantrell, and Scott Smith

EDGE: Fedor

While I can’t stand Sylvia, I think he was the harder opponent. Irvin is no slouch, but whereas Sylvia is a former UFC champion, it’s arguable that Irvin has really just been on a bit of a lucky streak lately.


FINISH OF MOST RECENT FIGHT

FEDOR VS. SYLVIA
Fedor beat Sylvia via Rear Naked Choke at 36 seconds of the first round.

SILVA VS. IRVIN
Silva beat Irvin via Knockout (Punches) at 1:01 of the first round.

EDGE: Fedor

This was a tough one – both fighters finished their fights early in the first round, and both did it in dominating fashion. Silva was fighting at Light Heavyweight, one weight class above what he normally fights in (but he has fought in LHW before), and Fedor was fighting a fighter who was 8 inches taller and 35 pounds heavier. As I said, it’s tough, but coming down to one of the final factors – time – Fedor was quicker.


QUALITY OF LAST THREE FIGHTS (prior to recent fight)

Fedor
His last three fights were:
Hong Man Choi – 12/31/07
Matt Lindland – 4/14/07
Mark Hunt – 12/31/06
Won all three in the first round by submission

Silva
His last three fights were:
Dan Henderson – 3/1/08
Rich Franklin – 10/20/07
Nate Marquardt – 7/7/07
Won all three, two by TKO, one by submission – none went past the second round.

Edge: Silva

While Fedor’s record may appear slightly more impressive on paper strictly looking at the finishes (3 submission wins, all in the first round), the actual quality of his opponents has been pretty low – Hong Man Choi had only one other pro fight before he fought Fedor, Mark Hunt has wins over Marko “CroCop” Filipovic and Wanderlei Silva (but both of those were two years ago, and now his overall record is 5-4), and Matt Lindland is a great fighter, but he normally fights at Middleweight, and so had to go up two weight classes to fight Fedor, losing speed and power. Additionally, Sylvia was considered by many (myself included) to be Fedor’s first true quality opponent in almost three years. Further, Fedor’s wins came much farther apart than Silva’s. Silva has often said he’d fight every three months if he could – not only do I believe him, I think he’d probably win all the fights.

Silva beat Nate Marquardt, an up and comer in the UFC who has wins over Jeremy Horn and Dean Lister; Rich Franklin, former UFC Middleweight Champion; and Dan Henderson, former Pride Middleweight AND Light Heavyweight Champion, who many thought was going to be Silva’s biggest test. Puddin, GAM and myself all saw this fight live – it was awesome – Henderson did manage to stifle Silva most of the first round, but Silva ultimately capitalized in the second and submitted Henderson.

OVERALL STRENGTH OF RECORD

Edge: Fedor

Fedor has wins over Tim Sylvia, Matt Lindland, CroCop, Mark Coleman, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Kevin Randleman, Gary Goodridge, Heath Herring, Ricardo Arona, Renato “Babalu” Sobral, and Semmy Schilt – and Fedor has beaten some of these people twice, or even three times.

Silva has wins over Dan Henderson, Rick Franklin, Nate Marquardt, Travis Lutter, Chris Leben, Tony Fryklund, Jeremy Horn, Carlos Newton, Hayato Sakurai (who had never been stopped before he faced Silva), and Roan Carneiro.

Both fighters have been fighting since 2000.

While Silva has a number of wins over quality opponents, Fedor’s list is a bit more impressive, with multiple former (and one current) UFC champions. Many of the people on Silva’s list are awesome fighters who have faced a number of quality opponents in their own right, but I just think that overall, Fedor has faced stronger challenges.


FINAL COUNT
Given these factors, Fedor wins 3-1. These points are just, of course, my opinion. I know there are other factors you can take into account, such as the fact that Silva has fought in two different weight classes (Middleweight and Light Heavyweight) and has posted wins in both.

However, Fedor is extremely agile and multi-faceted for a Heavyweight – while many Heavyweight fighters tend to exhibit only one true strongpoint in their fight game (i.e. Nogueira being able to get the crap beat out of him and then still submit someone, or Couture being a great wrestler, or Sylvia being able to give people laugh when he gets beat time and time again), Fedor has exhibited great submission and striking game in addition to his no-nonsense approach to fighting. He never shies away from a fight and always jumps on his opponents regardless of their size or skill – one thing I neglected to mention about Hong Man Choi is that he is 7 Feet 2 Inches tall and weights 352 pounds – and granted, while he only had one other professional fight, Fedor jumped on him and repeatedly attempted takedowns and ultimately submitted him.

I’m a big fan of Fedor, but I’m also a big fan of Silva – I think they both exhibit great skillsets, and are both respectable, admirable fighters. I try not to get into the senseless debates on various forums about which one could beat Chuck Norris quicker, or whether or not Fedor actually killed a bear with a knife (I do believe that), and I think as long as one of the two of them remains in MMA, one of the two of them will always be at the top of the P4P list.

Silva is a very close second in my book, and I think if the UFC manages to bring in some more middleweight talent (i.e. Paulo Filho, Matt Lindland, or have Wanderlei Silva drop down to middleweight), then Anderson might be able to move up the line a bit faster. However, I think that none of those three fights will happen, for various reasons. Further, if Fedor stays with Affliction, he at least has a few good heavyweights to fight – Andre Arlovski, Josh Barnett and Ben Rothwell.

Silva’s next opponent is rumored to be Patrick Cote. Fedor’s next opponent is TBA. Regardless of who it is, though, I’m going to go ahead and say Fedor will still stay at the top of my list after that fight. Cote isn’t a complete can, but he’s nowhere near Silva’s league, and I think Silva will eat him alive in less than a minute. Silva was originally supposed to fight Yushin Okami (who has a win over Silva, via disqualification, so essentially Silva beat himself) but Okami broke his hand.

If Fedor ends up facing any of the above named fighters, it could be an entertaining match. MMA fans are waiting for what many fans consider to be a superfight between Fedor and former UFC Heavyweight (and Light Heavyweight) Champion Randy Couture. Couture is still engaged in a heated legal battle with the UFC, and reports say that, at the earliest, Couture won't be able to fight in another organization until November. However, at 45 years old, Couture isn't getting any younger, and I think it's safe to say that Dana White's (CEO of the UFC) goal is to keep Couture stalled until he's just too old.

So until next time....

-PreView

7 comments:

Puddin' said...

I disagree with 2 of your points giving Fedor the edge.

First, I don't know how relevant the "quality of last opponent" is. Fedor got to pick his essentially, and Silva really didn't. Plus, Fedor has only fought a handful of times in the last 3 years. Silva has fought about 10 times in that same span.

That being said, Fedor fought a giant of a man in Sylvia, no question. But by your own later reasoning, a win over a giant (see: Hong Man Choi) isn't necessarily that impressive. Moreover, Sylvia had lost 2 of his last 3 fights coming into his fight with Fedor. His only recent wins were a lackluster decision over Brandon Vera (who is now fighting at a lower weight class), a lackluster decision over Jeff Monson (quality fighter, but now out of the UFC), and 2 wins over Andrei Arlovski (one boring decision, one KO he luckily landed after being dropped by Arlovksi in the 1st Round, not to mention the fact that for his last several UFC bouts, Arlovksi was a shadow of the Arlovski we saw punish Ben Rothwell at Affliction: Banned.

Now, looking at Silva. He fought James Irvin, who normally fights at 20lbs. heavier than Silva. Irvin, while not the best fighter at the LHW division, had at least won 4 of his last 5 fights, and was on a 2 fight win streak, as opposed to coming off of a loss.

Also, Silva took this fight on relatively short notice, and it's not like he was fighting a LHW tomato can like Tito.

You mention it later, but you ignore it here... Silva fought up a weight class.

Based on all this, I think that Silva's opponent was more impressive than Fedor's, despite name recognition.

I also disagree with you giving the edge to Fedor on the finish of the most recent fight. If time was the only factor considered, you should have just called it, "How Quick the Fight Ended." Fedor pounced early, no question, but once Sylvia was on the ground, he offered very little in the way of resistance to Fedor's attempt to secure the RNC. Fedor just stepped into the hooks and locked his hands under Sylvia's neck. No doubt Fedor's strength helped him in the submission, but he didn't ever really have it locked under Sylvia's neck. Sylvia knew he was dead and gave up.

Silva, on the other hand, abused Irvin in the worst way. Kicks to the body are just meant to pester your opponent. Sure they hurt, maybe bruise. But rarely is a body kick going to finish a fight. So, that being said, Irvin was just using this kick to set up a combination or to establish a pace to use to his advantage later. Silva said, "Fuck that," grabbed his leg and delivered the quickest, most accurate punch to the face maybe the world has ever seen. This punch didn't just stun Irvin... it dropped him like a sack of potatoes. Then Silva pounced and landed several more square shots to the chin before the ref stepped in.

Besides, after you give the edge to Fedor here, you justify it by making the same argument you did for "Quality of Most Recent Opponent" -- Sylvia is bigger and better. And then you say it came down to time.

So if Silva has been getting his ass kicked, Daniel LaRusso style, and then broke out the crane to finish Irvin, would the edge still go to Fedor based on time?

Hell no. Silva's finish was much more impressive. After Fedor knocked down Sylvia, it was just a matter of time. Silva's happened so fast, and it happened on such an innocuous move by Irvin. There's no real debate here for me.

And I disagree with your conclusion anyway, because Fedor has been a stagnant fighter for a really long time. One win over Sylvia, whose place in the top 10 HWs is certainly up in the air now, should not put Fedor as the #1 P4P fighter in the world. If it does, then it's just on reputation. Silva has demolished the entire division in the greatest MMA promotion on Earth... so much so that he has to challenge himself by fighting people in different weight classes. And he's been fighting regularly, something Fedor cannot say. Given the current state of MMA, the mythical P4P title belongs to Silva, and Fedor has to fight his way "up the line." 2008 does not equal 2005.
----------------
Sorry this is rambling, but I just thought of this point...

On April 8, 2007... Matt Serra was, P4P, better than Fedor.

Serra's last opponent was GSP. Fedor's was Mark Hunt. Try to tell me that Hunt is better than GSP.

Edge: Serra

Serra brutally knocked out GSP, admittedly a much tougher fighter than Hunt. Fedor submitted Hunt. Based on quality of opponent and ignoring excitement factor...

Edge: Serra

I'll just give you Fedor over Serra on last 3 fights and overall record. No point debating that.

So we're sitting at 2-2. And since length of fight is the tie-breaker, Serra KO'd GSP in 3:25. It took Fedor more than 8 minutes to submit Hunt.

Edge: Serra
-----------------
Okay, I feel better. My point is, I appreciate your thoughts, but I think your analysis is flawed.

PreView said...

Oh Puddin, Puddin, Puddin. Of course you think my analysis is flawed. You don’t agree with the end result, so my analysis has to be flawed.

I still think that Sylvia ranks higher as an opponent – yes, he was coming off of two losses out of his last three fights, but one of those losses was to Randy Couture, and one to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira; two guys who definitely aren’t hacks. Irvin, on the other hand, beat Houston Alexander (not a bad opponent); also Luis Cane, but this was by disqualification, and Hector Ramirez (who hasn’t had a win over even a semi-quality opponent since 2005).

Yes, Silva was fighting up a weight class – but let us not also forget that reports state that Silva normally walks around between 210-220 pounds; that’s more like a LHW than MW. Given that, the cut would be less of a problem. Also, he’s fought at LHW before, albeit not in the UFC. And while his opponent may have been stronger than some MWs, I would hazard that a number of MWs, particularly Rich Franklin and Dan Henderson, are just as strong as some of the LHWs, definitely as strong as Irvin, so I don’t think the change in weight class was a problem. Yes, he took the fight on semi-short notice, but that was a decision completely up to him – and he has stated he’d like to fight every three months, so that’s on him. And for the record, Tito is not a tomato can, and you know it – but I know, just like the pictures of hot girls on your posts, in any UFC related thing, you have to throw in a jab at Tito.

I think your analysis of the finish of both fights actually works a bit to prove my point. Particularly the point where you said that Sylvia offered very little resistance to Fedor’s RNC. This is just another aspect of Fedor’s game – the mental beating. Even that early in the fight, he knocked Sylvia around so hard and so quickly, that once they were down, Sylvia felt there was very little he could do to resist.

Silva did whoop up on Irvin, no doubt about that – and grabbing Irvin’s leg when he tried to kick him was great. While I do think this was a great finish, I don’t think it’s something that was that far outside the realm of possibility – frankly, Silva was just capitalizing on the situation as he should have. I’m not saying it wasn’t a good finish, but I don’t think it was the “end all be all” of finishes you seem to make it out to be.

And while you seem to criticize my citing of time as a factor, I think it is a very important factor. Fedor didn’t mess around – he got in Sylvia’s face and put him down. Silva didn’t mess around either, it just took him a little bit longer to do the job (a very little bit). I also stress the importance of the opponent, because Fedor has been (correctly) criticized for fighting people far below his skill set in the recent years. Sylvia was a step up, and Fedor ended it just like many people thought he would, but I think quicker than most people thought he would.

Also, I don’t think a win over Sylvia simply put Fedor in the # 1 position – I just think it solidified his position there. Fedor has been this dominant for a long time – I don’t think he just suddenly jumped to the top of the rankings….he’s been there. Even over the last three years while his fights were few and far between, many analysts still had Fedor ranked # 1. And while he has been lax on quality opponents for the last three years, Sylvia was the first step back into that world. Further, you stated that Silva has to challenge himself by fighting opponents in a different weight class. While I do feel Silva was challenging himself by doing this, it was not his idea. He has publicly stated multiple times that Dana asked him to do it, and that he has all intentions of immediately moving back to 185 – that he was doing it as a favor to the UFC because they’ve done so much for him. And while you’re correct that he has torn through the middleweights in the greatest MMA promotion on earth, not all of the top 10 MWs fight in the UFC; namely Lindland, Filho, and W. Silva (when he’s at MW). So just like Fedor has to toe the line some more, so does Silva.

Clearly the only way to settle this is have Fedor drop down to LHW, have Silva go back up to LHW, and then they fight in a ring of fire with glass on the knuckles of their gloves like in “Kickboxer”. Now that would be awesome. Seriously, though, I think a fight at LHW is possible, but not very probable.

Also, I understand your logic of trying to use my analysis against me with the Serra vs. Fedor example, but that’s taking it out of context and allows for anybody to be better, P4P, that someone else simply because of what happens on the particular day, and only using those four factors. Using it like you did, Ryo Chonan was better, P4P, than Anderson Silva, when he beat him, simply because he beat him. Same with Okami - was better than Anderson Silva when he beat him, even though he won by DQ.

I only used those four factors here because I just chose to highlight those four because two of the four came into play this past weekend. There are a number of other reasons I think Fedor is the #1 P4P in the world, and were you to use a holistic analysis taking into account various statistics including win percentages, finishes, finishing times, opponents’ records, amount of money made – all sorts of things like that – there’s no way a fighter like Serra would ever be better than Fedor. I do think Silva is close, and he creeps up on Fedor everyday, but I still don’t think he’s number one.

Finally, let's be frank about this - we both know we can argue about this until we can't talk anymore and neither of us are going to change our minds.

In with the queen of hearts.

-PreView

Puddin' said...

As for Sylvia...

So, If I decided to go get beat up by Fedor, Couture, Barnett, CroCop, Herring, and Big Nog, would that raise my stock as a fighter, because I lost to such great names? Definitely not. Maybe Sylvia was a bit overrated. After all, his only impressive wins were over Arlovski... and one of those was total luck. That, and like I said, Arlovski was not himself. Riddle me this... if Arlovski and Sylvia fight today, who do you take? Exactly.

As for the Serra argument... that was the point. Your analysis was incomplete, at best.

Next, I'll go back to my other point, that 2008 is not 2005. So if Fedor spent the rest of his career fighting Polish nuns, would he remain the #1 P4P fighter, simply because he once was there? Nope. In 2006 and 2007, Silva not only passed Fedor, he lapped him. You gotta fight real competition on a regular basis to have the P4P title, as I see it.

Finally, Silva won't fight Filho... you know that. Lindland was less than impressive at Affliction: Banned. And I'm asking because I don't know... has Art Vandalay Silva fought at MW before? If not, you might as well throw in all the other LHWs that Silva hasn't beaten. Anyway, Art Vandalay Silva has lost 3 of his last 4, and he lost to Tito. So how good can he be?

PreView said...

Art Vandalay Silva has fought at MW before. He was considering moving back down again, depending on how the Jardine fight went - but since he whooped up on Jardine, I think he's decided to stay at LHW for a while.

Puddin' said...

Has he fought at MW since 2002? I looked at his fight record, and none of those names were MWs, I don't think. Anyway... the point is... any LHW could "think about dropping down." Art Vandalay Silva is a LHW.

PreView said...

I get your point about any LHW "dropping down". It appears that the last MW A.V. Silva fought was Ikuhisa Minowa in '04, and while I do think Silva is a LHW, he has never shied away from taking on opponents in other weight classes, due to Pride's events like open weight grand prix tourneys and such. That's how Silva fought CroCop and Mark Hunt.

Regardless of all this, though, I don't think this "Battle of the Silvas" fight would happen. As I stated in one of my earlier articles, Silva and Anderson Silva trained together for a long time and have stated they would not want to fight each other. Also, given Silva's complete destruction of Jardine, I don't think he's going anywhere for the time being.

-PreView

PreView said...

And for the record, the Pride MW class was 200, and WW was 183. So when you might read somewhere that Silva fought at MW, while that's true, it's not the same MW as the UFC. His MW days were mostly earlier.