At yesterday’s media conference call for Strikeforce’s heavyweight GP, heavyweight star Fedor Emelianenko fielded questions about his preperation and participation in the eagerly awaited 8-man tournament.
“I feel very good about participating in this tournament,” fedor told the assembled media via his translator. “I feel very proud to be part of the eight who have been chosen and I feel proud to be representing my country in the tournament. I’m training to win the tournament. I’m training hard and whatever happens after that is up to God but I’m training hard and I look forward to performing.”
When asked how the forthcoming tournament compared to his days fighting in PRIDE, where he won the 2004 PRIDE Heavyweight Grand-Prix, Fedor suggested that it compares favorably.
“I believe that this tournament has assembled enough quality fighters and some of the strongest and most interesting heavyweight fighters in the world so I think that in no way is this tournament any less than the ones I competed for with Pride. I believe it’s just as good, if not better.”
Perhaps the most interesting comment from the Russian came when asked what he’d be doing to train for his upcoming fight. In the past Fedor has been known for his reclusive approach to training, choosing to prepare exclusively in his home town, Stary Oskol where he’s lived since he was just two years old.
After his 10 year unbeaten run came to an end with a quick submission defeat to Fabricio Werdum, many took it as a sign that he should now look to broaden his horizons and train overseas.
From the sounds of things the 34 year-old is yet to fully come to that conclusion himself, but he appears more open to the idea of it, and expectedly he does bring up one UFC heavyweight fighter who he’d consider training with.
“I’m probably going to train in Russia. I’m more comfortable there and I like to be close to my family. It’s likely I’ll probably stay in Russia,” Emelianenko said via his translator. “But I wouldn’t mind training somewhere else and with someone like Shane Carwin, who is a good fighter. But most likely I’ll stay in Russia.”
It sounds like a good idea to me. At just 6ft and 230lbs Fedor is going to have to deal with considerably bigger, hard-hitting strikers if he’s to negotiate his way to the finals of the grand-prix, with the likes of Antonio Silva (6ft 4″ / 263lbs) and Alistair Overeem (6ft 5″ / 262lbs) standing in his way.
It’ll be hard to find comparable opponents to train with in Russia, but a trip to the US to work with Carwin, who has to cut weight to make the 265lb limit and hits like a freight train, would be an ideal alternative. There’d be other benefits too – Carwin trains at the Jackson’s MMA affiliated Grudge Training Center ran by Trevor Wittman which also is home to the likes of Rashad Evans, Nate Marquardt and Brendan Schaub.
At this level of competition that’s the kind of caliber of training partner a fighter like Fedor needs to perform at his best, so hopefully he can be convinced to do so.
The way he’s talking though I have a sneaky suspicion he’ll find his home comforts to tempting to resist.
And for the record, Carwin is receptive to the idea.
“Maybe when he comes for the fight we could meet up. Hell I might travel to Russia,” Carwin stated on twitter after hearing Fedor’s comments.