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Fedor Emelianenko returns, wins controversial decision Friday

Fedor vs. Fabio

In a fight that ranged from sad to exciting to perversely entertaining, sometimes all at once, former PRIDE & Strikeforce heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko was ruled the winner in the second fight of his comeback, but as far as his career goes, he was anything but that.

In the main event of Friday's EFN show in Saint Petersburg, Russia, that aired for nearly seven hours on UFC Fight Pass, Emelianenko was awarded a controversial majority decision over former UFC light heavyweight Fabio Maldonado on scores of 29-28 (x2) and 28-28.

A normal referee would have stopped the fight on at least two occasions: once in the first round when Emelianenko was being pounded on and knocked silly on the ground, and second, when he managed to get out of the position and his legs were gone as he was stumbling around. Still, "The Last Emporer" survived a first round where he took a terrible beating that somehow two judges called a 10-9.

In the second round, Emelianenko recovered and came back, although it was clear the 36-year-old's Maldonado's strategy was to block his punches and come back. Maldonado came back at the end of the round, landing a lot of solid punches, making it a close round.

Emelianenko did more damage in a third round putting two exhausted fighters on display, but, at best, he should have earned a draw out of it.  While Maldonado blocked most of his punches, Maldonado was too tired to take advantage of Emelianenko's tiredness and wear from the battering he took. Maldonado was also pretty battered by the time it was over.

A 28-28 score was legitimate as would be a 29-27 for Maldonado. 

The announcer, hilariously honest, openly thought the fight was over early in the first round and was cheering for Emelianenko. He also said this probably ruins his chances to get into the UFC.  Perhaps he could still get a deal because of his name, and that the viewership of this fight was small. But, it was clear that even though Emelianenko has unreal mental toughness, he would get destroyed by any good heavyweight striker unless he got to them quickly.

Maldonado proved a tough style match-up because the one thing he has is the ability to take punches which allowed Emelianenko to unload and tire himself out.  Emelianenko never once went for a takedown, prompting the announcer to questioning why not, since Emelianenko would have had a huge edge if he could get the takedown.

Even before the decision was read, the announcer acknowledged Emelianenko had lost the fight, but said that, of course, he would be ruled the winner.