There’s only one opponent legendary heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko will turn down — and that, apparently, is a fellow Russian fighter. Any of them.
Uniondale, NY — Fedor Emelianenko was active, aggressive, and looked comfortable both on the feet and on the ground against Chael Sonnen at Bellator 208. With a first round TKO over ‘The American Gangster,’ Emelianenko, considered by many the greatest heavyweight of all time, will now move on to the Bellator World Heavyweight Grand Prix finale in January. Following the win, Fedor addressed the media, discussing the fight, who he feels the best of all time is, and his match-up against Ryan Bader in the final round.
Asked why his style in this fight felt, perhaps, more interesting than other fights of late, Emelianenko replied that “I cannot say if it was more interesting or less interesting, they’re how it happens. I could feel, actually, Chael, I could see all his movements, and try to react in time.” That he did. Sonnen would wind up on his knees, covering up after losing the grappling side of the affair as well as the striking side. The TKO came shortly after.
While many consider Fedor the greatest of all time, at least at heavyweight, Emelianenko had another name in mind. “I like very much Cain Velasquez,” he said when asked for his pick on who the greatest was, “but he’s not fighting now I guess.”
Next up for Eemelianenko is, of course, Ryan Bader, who dominated Matt Mitrione a night earlier at Bellator 207 in Connecticut. The pair faced off in the cage after Fedor’s win over Sonnen. Asked about preparing for the decorated wrestler, the Russian legend said that “we take into consideration the specialties and certain features of all the opponents we meet.”
As an example, the wrestler he’d just faced. “We were preparing for this very fight, taking into consideration very strong sides of Chael. The same will happen during the preparation for the fight with Bader,” Fedor explained. “So we and my team will make the necessary conclusions. Certainly there will be a lot of attention to the work on the ground, on the canvas.”
Asked whether he’d have the same sparring partners, Fedor joked “I just came out of the fight, may I have some time please?”
With Sergei Kharitonov defeating Roy Nelson at Bellator 207 and undefeated Vitaly Minakov back in the fold, there’s a possibility, should Bader be hurt before the final, that Fedor face another heavyweight talent. “Let us talk about that in case such a situation happens,” Emelianenko said of a possible opponent switch. “But actually I did request from Scott Coker not to put Russian opponents against me. Thank God during my career I didn’t have fights with Russian fighters.”
In fact, by the end of his career, Fedor Emelianenko is hoping to have never faced a Russian opponent. “God managed it that way, that I didn’t have to fight Russian fighters during my career,” he said later. As to why, “for me, it’s not that important how they look at me, how they treat me,” Emelianenko explained. “For me, [what is] very important is my attitude towards them. That’s why at the very end of my career, I would prefer not to.”