This Day in MMA History: Dec. 22

By Brian Knapp Dec 22, 2008
It happened 2,922 days ago Monday. Fedor Emelianenko lost a fight.

Eight years later, his controversial and disputed defeat to Tsuyoshi Kohsaka at a Rings show in Osaka, Japan, remains the lone blemish on an otherwise pristine resume. The then unknown 24-year-old Emelianenko slipped a looping punch from the Japanese veteran and was sliced open by Kohsaka’s elbow as it zipped past his head in the opening exchange. Few even noticed damage had been done.

Blood poured from the wound above the stoic Russian’s right eye as the referee separated the two clinched men in the center of the ring. Doctors deemed Emelianenko unfit to continue, and the bout was stopped just 17 seconds after it began. He threw only two punches in the fight.

Because the match -- just the fourth of Emelianenko’s career -- was part of the 2000 King of Kings tournament, organizers insisted a winner be declared. Had it been governed by standard Rings rules, under which elbows were illegal, it might have been ruled a no contest. As it was, Kohsaka took his bow and advanced.

The loss did nothing to throw Emelianenko’s career off track. In 26 bouts since, he owns a 25-0 mark with one no contest. He has finished 18 of those 25 wins (72 percent) inside one round, eight of them -- including his 36-second thrashing of two-time UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia at Affliction “Banned” in July -- in two minutes or less. He holds a pair of victories against interim UFC heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and UFC hall of famer Mark Coleman, plus other high-profile wins against one-time UFC heavyweight titleholder Kevin Randleman, 2000 Olympic silver medalist Matt Lindland and 2006 Pride open weight grand prix winner Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic. No mixed martial artist has approached Emelianenko in terms of sustained dominance.

Kohsaka -- who was 32 fights into his professional career and already held three UFC victories by the time he met Emelianenko -- lost his next two bouts and five of his next six after his controversial win. Included among those setbacks was a decision loss to Randy Couture in the King of Kings 2000 Final two months later.

Emelianenko did not let his only defeat go unanswered, either. He met Kohsaka for a second time in the Pride “Bushido 6” main event on April 3, 2005 at the Yokohama Arena in Yokohama, Japan. By then, Emelianenko was two years into his reign as Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight titleholder and had business to finish. After he battered Kohsaka for 10 full minutes -- he nearly grounded-and-pounded his head permanently into the canvas -- doctors stopped the fight in between the first and second rounds.
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