Ever since Fedor Emelianenko decided to go with Strikeforce instead of the UFC, MMA fans have wanted a great heavyweight. To me, it looks like the winner of Junior dos Santos-Cain Velasquez 2 is that fighter. With guys like Alistair Overeem, Daniel Cormier and Fabricio Werdum as contenders, do you think the winner of JDS-Velasquez will surpass Fedor? Also, are you worried about a Fedor-Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira scenario developing if dos Santos beats Velasquez again so quickly? -- Ryan from Santa Ana
Brian Knapp, features editor: To be fair to all involved, Emelianenko’s shoes will never be filled in the eyes of many. Few have cast a more immense shadow in MMA at any weight, and few have developed a more loyal following. In certain circles, it has become all but blasphemous to compare anyone to “The Last Emperor.”
Personally, I think dos Santos is three or four victories away from launching himself into the discussion of greatest heavyweight of all-time. Of course, this first step is a doozy. Beating Velasquez once was hard enough; beating him again figures to be even more difficult. Let us assume for argument’s sake that dos Santos does walk away from their UFC 155 rematch with his hand raised. One has to figure Overeem will be next in line, provided he takes care of business against Antonio Silva. The “Demolition Man” would serve as an intriguing foil for dos Santos, as he would be the first man with the potential to outdo the Brazilian on the feet. Clearing those two hurdles would put dos Santos in a class all by himself in the UFC: no man has ever defended the heavyweight crown more than twice.
Beyond Velasquez and Overeem looms a potentially undefeated Cormier and a vastly improved Werdum, neither of which matches up particularly well with dos Santos. Should he run the hypothetical gauntlet and win those four fights (keep in mind, dos Santos has already beaten Werdum), he would have effectively cleaned out the heavyweight division. His record would stand at 19-1, including a 13-0 mark in the UFC. It would be hard to argue against his being the greatest heavyweight of all-time -- or at the very least his belonging in the conversation -- in the face of such overwhelming accomplishment.
In regards to Velasquez being left behind by another setback against dos Santos, such is the nature of the beast in all competitive endeavors. When the truly great ones come along, especially in individual sports, they dwarf their peers. Consider what Tiger Woods and Roger Federer did to their rivals during their respective primes. History forgets more men than it remembers.
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