WAMMA Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko announced Friday that he is canceling a planned press tour to the United States that had been scheduled for the start of December with stops set for New York, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles.
Emelianenko has made the decision so that he can begin his training camp early in preparation for his much-anticipated title defense against former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski, which is set to take place on Jan. 24 during Affliction and M-1 Global’s “Day of Reckoning” pay-per-view event at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California.
Emelianenko’s decision comes in response to a recent loss at the 2008 World Sambo Championships that were held earlier this month in St. Petersburg, Russia.
“My trainers, Vladimir Voronov and Alexander Michkov, met with me in Russia after the World Sambo Championships and we decided that the Arlovski confrontation is too important to delay a comprehensive training camp in exchange for press tour obligations on the other side of the world,” said Emelianenko. “Andrei Arlovski is a dangerous fighter and has looked in prime condition and at the top of his game in his last few fights. He is one of the top three heavyweights in the world. This is not a fighter I will defeat if I am taking shortcuts in training.”
Emelianenko had not lost the annual World Sambo Championships since 2000. While there are some similarities between Combat Sambo and Mixed Martial Arts, they are different sports with completely different scoring systems, strategies, rules, and emphasis. Sambo is a technical sport with points accumulated by executing throws and the number of points awarded is based on the positioning of both the person executing the technique and the landing position of the person being thrown. Compared to MMA, striking is limited both in scoring and when you can strike.
The current undisputed heavyweight champion is unhappy with the loss but does not believe results accrued while competing in Combat Sambo are applicable to the world of MMA.
“Sambo is my hobby and I enjoy very much participating in these tournaments to honor my country and use Sambo as the best training format for MMA,” he said. “But MMA is my job and I certainly approach my preparation differently. I had a nice run of Sambo victories since 2000 but I have lost in a Sambo match before this match as well. I think a lot of MMA fans have never seen Sambo before so I guess you can say I am happy that the recent loss has made some people pay attention to the sport and see the differences between Sambo and MMA.”
With the World Sambo Championships behind him along with recent filming in Thailand for an upcoming motion picture, Emelianenko will head for the high altitude in the mountains near his home city of Stary Oskol. The camp will last six to seven weeks and he will be joined by several of his teammates that train with him out of the Red Devil Fight Gym. In addition to getting himself ready for Arlovski on Jan. 24, Emelianenko will also be preparing his training partners for the upcoming M-1 Challenge finals against Holland set for Dec. 26 in Seattle, Washington.
For Emelianenko, the decision to begin his camp early was necessary in order to preserve his standing as the world’s top heavyweight but is still one that comes with mixed emotion.
“I wish I could see the fans in America to announce the fight but I will not be able to attend the press tour as I did for the Tim Sylvia fight,” said Emelianenko. “I received an incredibly warm welcome the last time I was in the United States and was looking forward to reuniting with my fans. But I must begin to prepare for Arlovski early and under the stringent training regimen and conditions that I have grown accustom to for all of my most dangerous opponents. There are people in MMA who attempt to paint a different picture of who the top fighters in the world are today and I must be fully prepared and focused to defend the reputation and status of my achievements in the sport.”