At one time, Fedor Emelianenko was considered the best fighter on the planet. Now, three years after his retirement, the man some still consider the greatest heavyweight mixed martial artist in history is on the verge of a return.
Rumors began heating up on Wednesday, but the rumors eventually became reality when Fedor released a statement to the Union of Russian MMA that confirmed his intent to return to professional fighting.
Having served in various political capacities over the past few years in Russia, and having healed some old injuries, the 38-year-old Russian believes the time is right for a return.
“It’s extremely important for any athlete to do what you love, to work out on training sessions, to prove yourself on the competitions, representing your Motherland,” said Fedor. “For the time that I’ve been working for the Ministry of Sport, I managed to give my contribution into (the) development of martial arts, I cooperated with the sports federations, learnt the problems of our sport and tried to solve them as good as I could. Now I feel that it’s a high time to get back in action.”
Three years may have helped mend what ailed him, but Fedor knows that it’s not as simple as stepping back in the cage. His overall fitness might be fine, but to be in fighting shape and hone his skills to compete at the level to which the sport has evolved doesn’t happen overnight. “The Last Emperor” is building a team to help prepare him for today’s MMA.
“I managed to recover and heal the old injuries. For the last 3 years, I was maintaining my physical shape, but that’s still not enough to compete at proper level. Therefore I started to do more intensive trainings recently. We got a team of versatile professionals and athletes, who will help me to prepare myself well enough,” he continued.
There has been no word yet as to what promotion will host Fedor’s return, and it sounds as if that piece of the puzzle is undecided. Having fought for Scott Coker under the Strikeforce banner for several years, it wouldn’t be surprising if Bellator, where Coker is now president, would be one of Fedor’s primary suitors.
Past negotiations with the UFC were rocky, at best, but if the dollar signs add up, you never know. The UFC, however, seems an unlikely match.
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Of course, other players could include M-1 Global, of which Fedor is a part owner, and Asia’s ONE Championship, among others.
“Now we are in the middle of negotiations between the promotion companies,” Fedor said in his statement. “Once agreements are reached, there will be information on the date of the fight and my opponent.”
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