clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Will Fans in Chicago Favor Fedor Emelianenko or Brett Rogers?

Many MMA fans are of an age that they grew up watching Rocky IV and similarly themed Cold War movies, but that doesn't change the fact that on the three occasions when Russia's Fedor Emelianenko has fought on American soil, he's been warmly received by the crowd.

But on Monday, I asked both Fedor and his upcoming opponent, Brett Rogers, whether that could change when they step into the cage together on Saturday night. After all, Rogers was born in Chicago, only about 30 miles from where Saturday's fight will take place, and Fedor has been subjected to something of a backlash from American fans who are disappointed that he decided not to sign with the UFC. Both fighters said they expect the crowd to be split.

"I hope the fans cheer me on, especially knowing that I'm from there," Rogers said. "I've got a lot of people coming out to support me, but maybe it's going to be 50-50, I don't know."

Fedor noted that he has plenty of fans -- including fans from the Russian-American community -- in Chicago. But he said he realizes that a lot of Chicagoans will get behind Rogers.

"A lot of people will come and support Brett Rogers," Fedor said. "I understand that. Certainly, Chicago is his birthplace so a lot of people will come to support him. I understand that. I do have some experience fighting where the audience supported my opponent."

The issue with Fedor's refusal to sign with the UFC is more complicated, and Fedor said he hopes fans realize that.

"As for the UFC and my fans being disappointed that I didn't sign with the UFC, I think it would be good if they would understand I couldn't sign a one-sided contract with the UFC," Fedor said. "My managers and I believe we deserve a little bit more."

My own opinion is that Fedor will get louder cheers from the fans than Rogers does on Saturday. Rogers isn't well known as a homegrown talent among Chicago MMA fans, and the types of fans who would boo Fedor for refusing to sign with the UFC probably just won't show up. Fedor is the real star of this show, and I think that's how the fans will treat him.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting