Major media outlets like the BBC and New York Times didn't cover Fedor Emelianenko
's victory over Jeff Monson
on Sunday. But they did cover what happened afterward.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of Russia -- a longtime fan of combat sports in general, and of Fedor in particular -- stepped into the ring to offer a congratulatory message to Fedor after his unanimous decision win. But as soon as Putin started talking, the fans in the Olympic Stadium in Moscow began to boo.
A Russian YouTube user posted the video of Putin's post-fight remarks, and it's already been viewed almost a million times in its first day online. That video is below.
Although the Fedor vs. Monson fight barely made a blip in the English-language media (other than MMA
sites like this one, of course), the booing of Putin has become a major story in outlets like the New York Times
and the BBC
. The Associated Press
called the reception for Putin "an unprecedented rebuke."
However, not everyone agreed that Putin's presence is what led the 22,000 fans in the arena to boo: M-1 Global Director of Operations Evgeni Kogan wrote on Twitter
that fans were booing a Russian singer. One report said the fans were booing Monson. Another report claimed -- seriously -- that the fans were booing because there weren't enough toilets in the arena. No one floating those alternate explanations has explained why, if that's what the fans were booing about, they began their booing at the exact moment Putin began talking. And if the fans weren't booing Putin, it's hard to understand why Russian state television broadcasts felt the need to edit out the booing.
Russian commentator Konstantin von Eggert told the Associated Press that Putin absolutely was being booed, and that it was a public humiliation the likes of which Putin has never suffered.
"We have never seen anything like this on this scale before," von Eggert said. "It is a symptom that some in Russian society are tired of Putin's image."
And so, while this was far from the biggest fight of Fedor's MMA career, the post-fight activities may have been far more significant.