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Fedor versus Monson a slippery slope

9/16/2011
Ric Fogel for ESPN.com

Heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko had one of the greatest runs in MMA history -- if not the greatest.

Between 2000-2010, he went without a loss. But since getting caught by Fabricio Werdum in June 2010 with a triangle/armbar, the "Last Emperor" has come down to earth with a thud. He lost to Antonio Silva in the Strikeforce heavyweight grand prix quarterfinals, then got TKO'd by Dan Henderson in July. Now he signs a deal to fight Jeff Monson on Nov. 20 in Moscow, in what he (and a still very substantial fan base) hopes will be a return to his winning ways.

The question becomes: Is the 40-year-old Monson credible enough to restore anything for Fedor? Truth is, if you're a Fedor fan, a win after three straight losses will be huge no matter whom he faces. Moreover, Monson represents an upgrade over the opponents originally being discussed by M-1 when the November return seemed certain (Travis Wiuff, Mike Whitehead, and allegedly Kevin Randleman). Monson had reeled off eight wins in a row before dropping a decision to Daniel Cormier in June. Even in that fight, a very hard to put away Monson was able to go the distance and keep the fight competitive. Cormier, of course, went on to TKO Bigfoot Silva in the semifinals of the heavyweight GP -- and Silva beat Fedor.

In other words, M-1 didn't bring in a slouch to face the pride of Stary Oskol. Monson can still fight, and he'll be more than just a warm body on Nov. 20. But it's a fight Fedor had better win if he wants to keep whatever's left of his relevance intact. A loss to Henderson is explainable, but one to Monson magnifies his decline ten times over.