One of the greatest fighters of all time, Fedor Emelianenko has unexpectedly announced plans to come out of retirement three years after he called time on his storied career.
“For every athlete it is very important to be able to engage in their favorite thing: give all the best in training, performing in competitions, defending the honor of the motherland,” Fedor said in a statement released to Russian site UnionMMA.
“During my time at the Ministry, I was able to work on the development of the sport, work closely with the presidents of sports federations, recognize the problems from within the sport, and as far as possible, try to solve them. But now I feel that it is time to return to the ring.
“I was able to recover and heal old injuries. The last three years I have maintained physical form, but this level is not enough to go into battle, therefore recently I started intensive training. We have assembled a team of versatile coaches and athletes who will help me in the training process. There is still work to do to prepare to leave the ring. Negotiations are underway with promotions. Once agreements are reached, there will be information on the date of the fight and rival.”
The former PRIDE heavyweight champion bowed out of MMA with a 34-4 (+1nc) record in 2012 after a three fight winning streak in which he’d claimed a decision win over Jeff Monson and KO’d both Satoshi Ishii and Pedro Rizzo.
By that stage in his career the level of interest in ‘The Last Emperor’ had been in decline though due to disappointing 1-3 stint in the Strikeforce promotion that had brought an end to a 10 year unbeaten run that saw him rise to ‘living legend’ status in the sport.
As it happens it was the UFC’s new heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum who first shocked the world by defeating Fedor by first round triangle choke in the Strikeforce cage back in 2009. A TKO loss to Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva followed, confirming that Fedor was human after all, with another TKO defeat to Dan Henderson coming after that.
So, word of Fedor’s imminent return isn’t likely to cause the same commotion it once would have, particularly as he’s now 38 years of age, but it’s still an interesting prospect, though it all depends on where he chooses to fight.
Naturally the most exciting match-ups are to be found in the UFC. Also, the UFC has been looking to break into the Russian market though, securing a TV deal there at the start of the year, so the next step would be to put on a marquee event there and having Fedor on the card would be a great bit of business.
Having said that, Fedor has had a well documented toxic relationship with the promotion, over the years, largely due to his associaion with Russian MMA outfit M-1 Global, so it’s questionable whether a deal could ever be reached between the two parties.
On the other hand, Bellator is a real possibility. Despite having his own issues with M-1 Global, Scott Coker did get Fedor on-board at Strikeforce and since taking over at Bellator he has reached out to the Russian fighter to gauge his interest in a return to fighting.
Last year Fedor seemed content to stay retired, but it seems the door for negotiation may now be open again.