Fedor Emelianenko

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Fedor Emelianenko

Fedor Emelianenko

Evgeni Kogan Chats with Knucklepit ©

On February 12, 2011, the man Randy Couture described as “the best pound for pound fighter in the world”, Fedor Emelianenko, suffered his second loss at the Strikeforce/M-1 Global/ Showtime World Grand Prix Heavyweight Tournament

This article was originally posted on February 24th, 2011 and has been archived

Prior to Fedor’s two consecutive losses, Emelianenko won his first 31 fights before suffering a genuine loss.  The only other top-level athlete with an MMA record similar to Fedor’s is fellow Ukrainian-born legend, Igor Vovchanchyn. Although both MMA superstars have similar winning streaks to their credit – Vovchanchyn 32 no-losses with one bout being a draw, and Emelianenko with 31 no-losses – these best-of-the-best athletes come from decisively different martial arts backgrounds.

Igor was a World Kickboxing Champion before crossing to MMA, and Fedor is a former Combat Sambo World Champion. One similarity Fedor’s fans don’t want to see come to fruition with these two legends is the knowledge that Igor Vovchanchyn retired at 32 and Fedor Emelianenko, 34, was contemplating retirement after his loss to Antonio Silva. 

Fortunately, M-1 Global’s Vadim Finkelstein has already declared that Emelianenko does intend returning to competition. And although any fan’s main concern would be for Fedor’s health and wellbeing, when Knucklepit caught up with M-1 Global’s Director of Operations, Evgeni Kogan, we were assured that Fedor is in good health and spirits.

Evgeni, how is Fedor’s eye?

It’s fine.  The orbital bone is not broken, and as far as I’m told, because Fedor is in Stary Oskol now and I’m in Holland, I’m told that he is okay.

Is it true Fedor will be competing in the Russian Combat Sambo Championships later this month?

Fedor Emelianenko “The Best Pound for Pound Fighter in the World” I think it’s actually not going to happen now.

How was Fedor when you talked with him after the fight?

He was feeling okay… emotionally he was fine.  I think he was really disappointed that the fight was stopped.  I think he wanted to continue and he was also probably disappointed that he let himself sustain a second loss.

Did he say anything about the HUGE response he got from the crowd?

No, he didn’t.  Fedor is a man of few words … He doesn’t so much comment on things like that.  He really appreciates the fans’ support, and the fans’ support in New Jersey because there are so many people from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe who live in that part of the US.  It was interesting, actually, being in the arena when either Fedor or Sergei Kharitonov spoke.  Before the translator had time to translate what they said into English, half of the crowd had already responded.  A significant part of the crowd could understand Russian.

When all eight heavyweight contestants lined up, what did you think of the applause Fedor received?  Obviously they weren’t all Russian, but he received a local hero’s welcome from everyone in the crowd.

Yeah, from the press conference and from the fans’ meeting opportunity, it was obvious people had attended to see Fedor.

In the past, and in various organizations, there have been fighters who have been caught attempting to enhance their game with drugs.  Others appear to have beaten the tests.  As a general policy for all MMA events, do you believe fighters should be blood tested instead of urine tested to make it harder for drug cheats to slip under the radar?

Overall, I think that ideally all professional sports – not just our sport, but all professional sports – should be regulated in the same way as amateur sports, in terms of the Olympics.  Specifically for this heavyweight tournament, we came to an agreement with our partners, and we’re happy with that agreement, that whatever testing is mandate by the Athletic Commission in the state where the event takes place, we are perfectly happy with that level of testing.

In “Warriors of the Ultimate Fighting Championship”, after Randy Couture lost to Ricco Rodriguez, Randy said to author Erich Krauss, “Giving up thirty pounds to a guy who knew how to use his weight and fight pretty well was a big difference.  In later rounds, it basically started to wear me down.”Antonio Silva weighed in at 264lbs and Fedor at 230lbs, but Antonio was believed to be 285 on fight day.  That’s a variance of 55lbs – the margin between lightweight and light heavyweight!  Do you think a fighter should have to make weight on the day of his fight?

Fedor Emelianenko vs. Big Foot – a huge reach disadvantage for Fedor I believe, should that rule be applied to MMA, our sport would be significantly different.  We are now seeing after Fedor’s fight with Antonio Silva that the quote from Randy Couture is more and more applicable.

In the heavyweight division more and more people are not only very big physically and are cutting weight to get to the upper 265-pound limit, but they’re also very technically skilled. I believe that rather than issuing a new weigh-in rule that would change the sport, and I wouldn’t say for the better, I think it’s more a sign that 230 pounds is not going to be enough for a heavyweight much longer.

And that’s just a statement on how great Fedor is, fighting at that weight in the heavyweight division where he has shown before in fighting a number of people who weighed much, much more than he did that he’s not only capable of it, but that he is capable of winning well.

Fedor’s loss wasn’t through a lack of skill: Despite being much smaller, he survived a rear choke, an arm triangle, and a knee bar.  He also took the best of Antonio’s punches and yet it was Antonio who wanted to tie up and take the fight to the ground.  What are your thoughts, please, Evgeni?

I thought that from the get-go that was going to be Antonio’s game plan in order to maximize his potential in the fight.  He is a good level jiu jitsu blackbelt, and I have also heard the report that he was 285 on fight night, so given his recent fight with Mike Kyle when he was knocked down but Lyle was not able to finish him, and also knowing that Antonio has been knocked down previously, I think he fought a really smart fight and did exactly what he had to do.

The DVD “Absolute Fedor”, available through www.teamfedor.com, contains 18 of Fedor’s victories.  Do you have any intention of making Fedor’s other victory fights available on a second DVD?

Fedor Emelianenko delivering bombs I actually can’t answer that; I’d have to speak to our people who produce the DVDs.  I’m not so much involved in merchandising, plus there are all kinds of difficulties in producing compilations of fights because of copyrights with different organizations. Will M-1 Global continue to work in conjunction with Strikeforce? Yes, of course, and also with our partners, Showtime.  We’re happy with that relationship and we intend to continue working with both.

So if Fedor does decide to retire, M-1 Global will still work with them?

Well, with Strikeforce, that’s a little too long in the future to predict, but we still have the Fedor contract to work with – specifically with Strikeforce.  Yesterday the news was finally made official that M-1, by ourselves, now has an event on Showtime.   (See news below). In general, our relationship with Strikeforce still has a long way to go because we have a contract for a number of fights left; however our relationship with Showtime keeps growing stronger, with our first event being on March 25 at the Conference Center in Norfolk, Virginia, and will be live on Showtime at 11 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).  This just strengthens our relationship and I believe it will continue to get better.

Is it true Fedor intends entering politics whenever he does retire?

The fact that he is in the Duma, or I think the parliament for the region that he is in, that’s true.  Whether or not he intends entering politics, I think that’s a question only he can answer.  My feeling is that, following his retirement, he will be connected with politics and the Russian political structure, but I’m not sure that he will become a fully-fledged politician.  My personal feeling is that he will do a lot for developing sport, but you’d have to ask him to know officially. Only the ring physician could stop Fedor. 

Through his incredible bravery and humility, do you think Fedor won over even more fans after his loss to Antonio.

Fedor Emelianenko’s guillotine choke That’s very hard to say… Obviously the fans love Fedor and naturally he continues to be a rising MMA star in the US and the world over, but whether he won over more fans from his last fight, I don’t know.  I think he showed his heart and the kind of fighter he is.  I believe a lot of people would have given up during that second round and he revealed his true character.  I know he was ready to come out for the third round.  He wanted the third round so badly.  He showed his true self to people, but whether or not he won more fans from that fight, I couldn’t tell you.

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