The consensus fighter of the last decade, Fedor Emelianenko, seems to have reversed his position regarding fighting again.
In an interview with the Russian website Union MMA published Tuesday, Emelianenko, 38, said he was contemplating a return to the sport. Sources within UFC and Bellator have been aware of this and there have at least been pitches with the idea of him doing one last fight. Bloody Elbow also reported the heavyweight fighter is returning to competition.
"For every athlete, it is very important to be able to engage in their favorite thing: Give all the best in training, performing in competitions, defending the honor of the motherland," said a translated version of Emelianenko's comments in Russian to Union MMA.
"I was able to recover and heal old injuries," he said. "The last three years I have maintained physical form, but this level is not enough to go into battle, therefore recently I started intensive training. We have assembled a team of versatile coaches and athletes who will help me in the training process. There is still work to do to prepare to leave the ring. Negotiations are underway with promotions. Once agreements are reached, there will be information on the date of the fight and rival."
As recently as March, Emelianenko had said that he would never fight again, even for a $10 million offer against Brock Lesnar.
Emelianenko (34-4, 1 no contest) last fought on June 21, 2012, when he knocked out Pedro Rizzo in the first round St. Petersburg, Russia. He retired after the fight, but there were negotiations shortly after that with he and his management with UFC for a big match at AT&T Stadium in Dallas, where he would have faced Brock Lesnar. Lesnar had agreed to the fight at the time, but the fight fell through when Emelianenko's father passed away and he said he was no longer interested in fighting. He is considered the biggest star in MMA history that has never competed in UFC.
Those close to Lesnar, who were aware of Emelianenko possibly wanting to fight, have indicated that ship has sailed, as Lesnar, also 38, is said to be no longer interested in fighting. Lesnar turned down a contract which he claimed was worth ten times what he had started with UFC at to sign a new three-year-deal with WWE in late March, and at the time said his signing the new WWE deal meant his fighting days were over.
Emelianenko was considered the top fighter in the world for much of the period from 2001 to 2009, where he compiled a 27-0 record with one no contest. He defeated Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira via decision on March 16, 2003, in Yokohama, Japan, to win the Pride heavyweight championship. At the time, Pride featured much of the best heavyweight talent in the world. He remained champion until the promotion folded in 2007.
Fedor Emelianenko says he is interested in returning to MMA
In an interview with the Russian web site Union MMA on Tuesday, forrner Pride heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko said that negotiations are taking place for him to return to fight. Both UFC and Bellator have been aware of this possibility. .