Fedor Emelianenko, the man most agree is the world’s best heavyweight, returns to action Saturday in Hoffman Estates, Ill., against the less experienced but still dangerous Brett Rogers.
The duel is the main event of Strikeforce/M-1 Global’s debut on CBS. Fedor is a fierce striker and an even deadlier submission player. He’s a resounding favorite at the sportsbooks and he should be.
While Rogers is not as big an underdog as James “Buster” Douglas was on Feb. 11, 1990, when he shocked the world with his dramatic 10th-round knockout of then-invincible Mike Tyson, a Rogers win would send similar shockwaves throughout the MMA world nevertheless.
So who will win? Sherdog.com caught up with dozens of professional fighters and trainers from the MMA community to gauge their opinions.
Jeff Monson: Fedor by submission early.
Pete Sell: Fedor tries to set up Rogers for a big shot but then slips. Brett jumps on the opportunity and KO’s him with his golden luck (laughs).
Dewey Cooper: Wow, this is an interesting fight for two reasons. A relatively unknown, untested, super aggressive big puncher that seems fearless and relentless for victories by knockout. Secondly, as close to perfection as a fighter can be in the unpredictable world of MMA, the incredible Fedor. Who, by the way, is another one-punch knockout artist. Will this be the fight (where) Fedor is overconfident and takes this new heavyweight threat lightly? We all know it will happen sooner or later if Fedor continues to fight; he will at some point be defeated. But I don't think it will be this fight.
Though I would love to see Rogers shock the world, I don't think it will happen. Fedor has too many ways he can win this fight. He can win by striking, takedowns with ground-and-pound or his deadly submissions, chokes, etc. Rogers has only one way he can win this fight -- by striking, most likely punches. Also, Rogers seems to be too aggressive at times, which can make him an easy target to work Fedor's takedown skills. So Fedor by first- or second-round KO or submission. Not to mention the championship experience Fedor has. That is always an advantage in these high-profile fights.
Kevin Burns: Fedor won’t be challenged by Rogers, and he’ll determine how long he wants the fight to last. He could probably finish him in under a minute if he chose to.
Jaime Fletcher: I like Brett Rogers, but I think Fedor is too much all around. I pick Fedor early by KO or submission. He always takes the fight where he can win it. Rogers’ ground (game) is not on the world-class level yet. You need that when you fight the greatest MMA heavyweight of all time. Right now that’s what Fedor is.
Mac Danzig: In the fights I’ve seen of Rogers, he’s seemed pretty sloppy, but that doesn’t mean he can’t win. Fedor isn’t invincible and if Rogers hits the chin, he has the power to finish. That being said, I think Fedor is more complete and has the experience to take the fight where he needs to. He also has a more resilient chin than anyone Rogers has faced thus far, so I’m going with Fedor unless he slips on a banana peel. I’d like to see the underdog win, but I don’t think many heavyweights at Brett Rogers’ level have the ability to beat Fedor.
Ricardo Liborio: Fedor by submission (in the) second round.
Chael Sonnen: Two fatties swinging like bums. Yawn, stretch, back to sleep.
Ron Frazier: No real reason for this pick. Maybe it’s just time for a new king? I love Fedor’s game, but I am picking the young big gun Brett Rogers by KO.
Scott Bieri: As much as I like parity in this sport, this one seems pretty straightforward. Rogers is a threat to any heavyweight but seems to be a one-trick pony at this point in his career. If Fedor can figure out a prime Cro Cop, Rogers’ heavy hands shouldn’t be a problem.
Micah Miller: Fedor (wins). Rogers has size and a puncher’s chance, but he’s in over his head.
Roland Sarria: Fedor will win by a Russian polar bear hammer punch to the ear in the first round.
Travis Lutter: Got to go with Fedor. He is due to lose, but I am not betting against him.
Gabe Ruediger: You’re kidding, right? It’s a fight and anything can happen, but short of the "Any Given Sunday" factor, this fight is all Fedor. On the ground and standing, it’s his world and Brett is just sniffing the air. Fedor by KO or submission in the first round.
Stephane Vigneault: Fedor is still the man. How can you beat a robot? Seriously, it's a dangerous fight, but Fedor is Fedor. Fedor by TKO in less than five minutes.
Brad Pickett: Fedor, 150 percent. I'll eat some dog s--t if I’m wrong.
Soa Palelei: (To Pickett) Big call to eat dog s--t. Dangerous fight for Fedor. I’m still backing Fedor, but he needs to either keep his hands up or take Rogers to the ground.
James Zikic: Fedor, first-round TKO. No doubt!
Ryan White: This is going to be a slugfest, but I think Fedor will win by KO.
Billy MacDonald: Fedor wins easy (via) KO in round one. Next up: Bigfoot Silva or Overeem.
Robin Black: I am leery to say this -- I have honestly received e-mail death threats for saying stuff like this -- but I am one of those jerks that thinks the whole Fedor myth has been blown WAY out of proportion. He's just a man. He's not unbeatable. But he will beat Brett Rogers handily and early. Fedor isn't the indestructible demigod that obsessive fans have made him out to be, but he is too much for Brett Rogers. Fedor in the first.
Thomas Denny: I like the black man in this fight. I think he will let his blackness out, and it will reign supreme. Huge upset: Brett Rogers TKO in round one. Too big, too strong, too hungry!
Ben Saunders: I am gonna go with Mr. Rogers on this one. I think he has skill and power to back it up. Only thing I have yet to see is his takedown defense, clinch work and ground skills. But if he can keep this fight standing, I believe he has the chance to knock Fedor out.
Kit Cope: Not that I don't think Rogers is legit, but I see Fedor ending this one in standard Fedor fashion. Rogers, however, poses the "puncher's chance" threat and he's a quick starter, so I predict Fedor moves with him a little, possibly leading to takedown and submission.
Tom Gavrilos: Fedor by any way he feels like ending it. This will not make it to decision. This fight is a serious mismatch.
Jamie Varner: Fedor by domination!
Stav Economou: Fedor by any way he wishes in the first round.
Ray Elbe: Ever been to Russia? The weather is freezing, the girls are expensive and the Vodka is cheap. That's what we call a nation with a fighting tradition. Fedor by Rogers dropping the soap, some time in the second round.
Bill Mesi: Fedor is hands down my favorite fighter; I have him tattooed on my thigh. The one thing I hate about him still fighting is the fact that no matter who he fights, his critics are always quick to say that Fedor fights nobodies and this fight is no different. If Fedor beats Brett, it will be just another no-name heavyweight that he’s beaten. On the other hand, if Rogers wins, Fedor will look bad and the rag on the emperor train will begin. If I had my way, Fedor should’ve retired on the top when he beat (Arlovski). I think Rogers possesses the patience, strength and shot power to hurt Fedor, so I’m really on the fence with this one. Watching Fedor’s last fight, I think a huge hole was uncovered: leg kicks and straight shots stump the champ. I’m going with Fedor on this one, but if Brett wins, I’ll be crushed. And mark my words: Win or lose, the Fedor haters will cease to realize he’s the most complete fighter light to heavy, hands down.
Mike Ciesnolevicz: I'm really pumped because I’m gonna be cageside at this fight. I think Fedor wins this fight on skill and experience, probably by an armbar or rear choke. Rogers has an outside chance at landing a big shot like Fujita nearly did to Fedor, but it's not likely. Fedor is hard to bet against by looking at his track record.
Mike Dolce: How do you pick against Fedor? Simple ... you don't! I think Brett Rogers is a big, strong, hard-hitting mofo, but Fedor is all that AND a bag of chips. Fedor via submission in round one.
Elvis Sinosic: The logical choice is to pick Fedor. He has had more fights, faced more higher quality opponents and has had numerous title fights and defenses. Fedor is very well-rounded: He can strike, takedown and grapple and all at a high level. He has the ability to find his opponent’s weakness and exploit it. Brett Rogers is a very dangerous opponent. He has heavy hands and finishes his opponents. The big problem is that we have not seen all of Rogers’ game. A lot of what he has to offer is unknown or speculation. This makes him dangerous. I predict Fedor will take the fight, most likely set up his takedowns with strikes and then work his ground-and-pound, looking for a TKO or submission. Fedor needs to be careful, though, as Brett has the ability to turn the match around with a single blow. If Fedor is careless or underestimates him, this could end badly for him. Rogers is coming in prepared and fired up. Fedor is the better fighter and should take this match. Fedor wins this.
Pros who picked Fedor: 27
Pros who picked Rogers: 4
Pros who couldn’t decide: 1