Fedor Emelianenko's loss to Antonio Silva put all his weaknesses on show: sloppiness on the ground, indifference to getting punched in the face, and general overconfidence bred from winning 25+ fights in a row despite the first two weaknesses. Afterwards Fedor made the case for retirement, and indeed he has been thinking about retiring even before losing to Fabricio Werdum.
Twice now Fedor has lost to standard jiu-jitsu techniques, getting caught in the triangle while in the guard, and getting pummelled while on the bottom of mount position. These are things that everyone in the game today tries to avoid as their first priority, but Fedor's carelessness (and overconfidence that he can remove himself from every trap) made him a victim to both as practiced by BJJ black belts.
So should Fedor retire? He's still #4 in our MMA Top 100, and yet #2 among heavyweights, but this is because he amassed such a huge point lead over the decade 2000 to 2009. Losses don't immediately knock a fighter down like they do in our boxing rankings, as MMA fighters don't have 30-0 records normally. But Fedor's decline seems obvious. Here is his fighting history and current rankings among those he's defeated:
Date Result Opponent
2/2011: LOSS #7 Antonio Silva
6/2010: LOSS #3 Fabricio Werdum
11/2009: Def #291 Brett Rogers
1/2009: Def #355 Andrei Arlovski
7/2008: Def #247 Tim Sylvia
12/2007: Def #NR Hong Man Choi
4/2007: Def #455 Matt Lindland
12/2006: Def #878 Mark Hunt
10/2006: Def #308 Mark Coleman
12/2005: Def #NR Zuluzinho
8/2005: Def #304 Mirko Filipovic
4/2005: Def #4904 Tsuyoshi Kosaka
12/2004: Def #22 Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
8/2004: NC #22 Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
8/2004: Def #5094 Naoya Ogawa
6/2004: Def #849 Kevin Randleman
4/2004: Def #308 Mark Coleman
12/2003: Def #NR Yuji Nagata
8/2003: Def #979 Gary Goodridge
6/2003: Def #1042 Kazuyuki Fujita
4/2003: Def #888 Egidijus Valavicius
3/2003: Def #22 Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
11/2002: Def #235 Heath Herring
6/2002: Def #5845 Semmy Schilt
2/2002: Def #1274 Chris Haseman
12/2001: Def #5213 Lee Hasdell
10/2001: Def #3576 Ryushi Yanagisawa
8/2001: Def #75 Renato Sobral
4/2001: Def #971 Kerry Schall
4/2001: Def #NR Mihail Apostolov
12/2000: LOSS #4904 Tsuyoshi Kosaka
12/2000: Def #125 Ricardo Arona
First we see that the fighters that beat him—Werdum and Silva—got a huge boost, in fact most of their points, from beating Fedor. Both are in the top ten overall and top three heavyweights. Could either of them really beat Cain Velasquez? There will be no shortage of competition coming up for the two as they continue through the rounds of the Strikeforce tournament; the four other remaining competitors are Alexander Overeem, Sergei Kharitanov, Brett Rogers, and Josh Barnett.
Also, it's been quite a while since Fedor beat a top opponent who is still highly thought of. This is no secret to those who follow MMA, as everyone makes this argument. His last win over an opponent who is still in the top 100 was in 2004, and that was Nogueira who has lost twice to UFC fighters since then.
It does bring up an interesting point: how many heavyweights Fedor has "ruined." Before losing twice to Fedor, Nogueira was the best in the world, and won 18 straight apart from those losses; since the 2nd loss, he's a more reasonable 8-3. Brett Rogers was 10-0 B.F. (Before Fedor) and is 1-1 since. Andre Arlovski was on a 5-fight winning streak before Fedor; now he's on a 4-fight losing streak and headed for retirement. Even Tim Sylvia didn't lose to any but the best before he took Fedor's beatdown; afterward he lost to aging boxer Ray Mercer and recently to 8-3 Abe Wagner.
One could argue that Fedor has been fighting those past their prime. So is it age or Fedor's knockouts that are hurting these fighters? Certainly Rogers and Arlovski, 28 and 29 when they fought Fedor, weren't over the hill. Sylvia was 32 and Nogueira 27 for their last fight. Really, these are peak ages for MMA fighters; their subsequent declines have a lot to do with Fedor.
It's perhaps more telling to look at where his recent foes were rated when he fought them:
Date Result Opponent
2/2011: LOSS #68 Antonio Silva
6/2010: LOSS #40 Fabricio Werdum
11/2009: Def #77 Brett Rogers
1/2009: Def #18 Andrei Arlovski
7/2008: Def #39 Tim Sylvia
This makes his more recent wins more impressive, while also making his recent losses look worse.
Fedor recently commented that he is a fan of Cain Velasquez and that he thinks Velasquez can remain champion of the UFC for a long time. We've noted that Velasquez fights a lot like a younger Fedor, and perhaps he'll carry the torch if Fedor decides to retire.