Let’s get one thing straight right off the bat: I’m not saying Fedor Emelianenko is the greatest mixed martial artist of all-time. That honour will probably go to Jon Jones if he can dispatch Dominick Reyes in February, pad his win column a few more times before retiring and keep his nose clean in the process. What I am saying is there is definitely an interesting case to be made for the Ukranian-born Russian heavyweight, who once again showed the world he is tough as a coffin nail in pummelling Quinton “Rampage” Jackson over the weekend at Bellator 237. Emelianenko, 43, made quick work of Jackson, 41, who at one point was one of the most feared UFC heavyweights and an international movie star to boot. In 2007, after beating Chuck Liddell at UFC 71 to win the light heavyweight championship, Jackson looked like his reign of terror over the division might be a long and prosperous one. It didn’t turn out that way for the American, who now looks like he’s battling the bulge as much as Father Time. His reign also fell victim to quicker, more nimble fighters like Forrest Griffin and Rashad Evans. Emelianenko became only the fourth person to finish Jackson by knockout or TKO, and he did so rather quickly, in the first round in a fight that looked like a foregone conclusion after about 10 seconds. Emelianenko is this type of fighter, one who defies odds and one who has been largely crushing his opponents since his first fight in 2000. Thirty-nine contests later, and some impressive victories over combatants like Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, and more recently, Frank Mir and Chael Sonnen, create an interesting resume. The problem with arguing Emelianenko is the greatest of all-time largely stems from the fact he never fought in the UFC, the world’s premier MMA company. In most sports, making a case for an athlete outside of the top league is a fool’s errand: no one is going to debate the greatest basketball player didn’t play in the NBA or the top football player didn’t suit up in the NFL. But Emelianenko is a different story for a number of reasons. View this post on Instagram Прошла официальная церемония взвешивания. Завтра бой. Прошу ваших святых молитв! A post shared by Федор Емельяненко (@fedoremelianenkoofficial) on Dec 28, 2019 at 2:22am PST He went an entire decade (2000-10) without losing a fight: 28 wins in total, a statistic impossible to ignore in any sports league. This is a remarkable accomplishment as sustaining oneself as a premier fighter for even a few years is a rarity. To dispatch opponents over the course of two sitting US presidents is virtually unheard of, and Emelianenko did it with style. This long run as the number one heavyweight in Pride Fighting Championship is quite remarkable given MMA fights are notorious for producing upsets. One clip of the jaw or quick submission can result in an unexpected win for the underdog. During his reign, Emelianenko dispatched four ex-UFC champions in the process, which strengthens his case given some argue he never regularly fought against the best of the best. He also beat those four ex-champions (Andrei Arlovski, Mark Coleman, Kevin Randleman and Tim Sylvia) in the first round, and did so with his trademark punishing style of boxing. He had a penchant for getting cut open during fights, bleeding profusely, and continuing to inflict maximum damage on his opponents regardless. He was a beast of a fighter who consistently cut his teeth on other top-notch pugilists. “The Last Emperor”, Emelianenko has always existed in the shadows of the MMA world, lying on the peripheral, outside of the edge and the glaring spotlight of the UFC and its marketing machine. His record is also tarnished by a three-fight losing streak that started in June 2010 and featured defeats at the hands of Fabricio Werdum, Antonio Silva and Dan Henderson. This extended all the way until 2011 when he beat Jeff Monson in November during a M-1 Global fight. There’s also the recent loss to Ryan Bader at Bellator 214, in which Emelianenko was clipped by a lucky hook one could chalk up to bad luck or poor timing. Emelianenko’s draw and allure lies in his Soviet Union era machinations and old school feel, almost as if he walks from a snow-covered Russian bar, slams a bottle of vodka, gets his hands taped and calmly offers to fight anyone in the room. The fact that he’s actually a highly educated and clinical tactician adds even more fuel to this image, magnetism and mystique. He combined old school military style striking with judo and sambo, and his unwavering toe-to-toe style produced some legendary bouts for fans which at times looked like heavyweights endlessly trading haymakers. A number of prominent figures – Chuck Norris, Mike Tyson and former fighters Junior Dos Santos and Jose Aldo – have called him the greatest of all-time. Sports Illustrated named him the greatest fighter of the 2000s and multiple other outlets, such as ESPN have him in the conversation as the best of the best: and rightly so. One wonders if simply being a part of the conversation makes Emelianenko the greatest, given there was, is and never will be another fighter like him. He is a one of a kind legend – an enigmatic big man with speed and punching power who moved like a predatory Russian Bear – and as Jackson recently found out, still out there willing to slug it out with anyone who will take him up on an offer of unhinged fisticuffs.