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UFC Fighters Admire Fedor Emelianenko

In the never-ending debate about the best pound-for-pound fighter in MMA, UFC President Dana White is always adamant that the top spot on any list should be occupied by his middleweight champion, Anderson Silva -- and not the Affliction heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko.

But I've asked several UFC fighters to tell me who they think is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, and I've been surprised by how many of them buck the company line and pick Fedor.

On a call Thursday to promote UFC 95, I asked Diego Sanchez what he thinks, and he said Fedor is an easy choice.

"Mine, without a doubt -- Dana, please don't get mad at me -- is Fedor Emelianenko," Sanchez said. "That guy is a legend. Every time he gets in the ring he's phenomenal. You asked me -- I was going to hold back -- but man, I don't even know if this guy's human. ... You let your guard down for one second, he's going to crack you in the jaw and break your jaw. You go to the ground with the guy, the guy's going to pull out arm bars that just look like pure art. And on top of that the guy has no emotions. And I really like the way the guy comes into the ring with a cross, thanks the lord after the fight, and I really think that's what makes him such a great champion."

Sanchez was quick to add that he also has a great deal of respect for Silva, but he said he sees holes in Silva's game that he doesn't see in Fedor's.

Joe Stevenson, Sanchez's UFC 95 opponent, went with a more personal answer to the question of the best pound-for-pound fighter, citing his longtime hero Dan Henderson. But Stevenson, like Sanchez, has nothing but respect for Fedor.

"I think Fedor is just awesome, too," Stevenson said. "I love Dan Henderson -- that's the emotional answer. ... I still go with my hero just because he's my hero."

Other UFC fighters have told me they're high on Fedor as well.

"I think the best fighter in the world is the Russian, Fedor Emelianenko," UFC middleweight Wilson Gouveia told me. "I don't see anybody else close to that guy. I think that guy is very, very amazing."

It doesn't stop with Sanchez and Gouveia. Mark Coleman told me Fedor was the toughest opponent he's ever fought. Frank Mir told me he doesn't think he could beat Fedor. Randy Couture has long said Fedor is the best in the world.

And while some in the UFC believe Georges St. Pierre is the best fighter in the world, especially after his dominant win over B.J. Penn at UFC 94, that's not what GSP himself thinks: St. Pierre said last year that Fedor is the best.

The good news for those of us who believe that Fedor is the best MMA fighter in the world and the UFC is the best MMA promotion in the world is that the door still hasn't been closed on Fedor fighting in the UFC. White himself told me last week, "I'd love to have Fedor in the UFC." It's clear that the UFC's other fighters would welcome him with open arms.

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