Fedor Emelianenko has been around the MMA game long enough to not make any guarantees.
“The Last Emperor” appeared on The MMA Hour on Wednesday and he admitted that Saturday’s bout with Tim Johnson at Bellator 269 in Moscow could mark the final fight of his storied career despite previously announcing plans to complete the remaining two fights on his Bellator contract.
“There is such a chance,” Emelianenko said via a Russian translator. “Certainly that would depend on the health, on my physical condition after the fight. Certainly we’ll discuss that with the family as well.”
“Maybe,” he added when the question was repeated.
Emelianenko, 45, enters Saturday’s contest coming off of a first-round TKO of Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and he has won three of his past four bouts. He has not competed since December 2019.
Even during his absence, the heavyweight legend’s presence has been felt through the success of his Fedor Team fighters Vadim Nemkov, Valentin Moldavsky, and Anatoly Tokov. Nemkov is the reigning Bellator light heavyweight champion, Moldavsky recently won the promotion’s interim title, and Tokov could be next in line to challenge for Bellator middleweight gold.
Asked to compare the feeling of his own success with that of seeing his pupils thrive, Emelianenko applauded his team’s efforts.
“I’m very grateful to God and I’m thanking God for all the opportunities which I got and that during my career I did have the opportunity to be on top many times,” Emelianenko said. “But certainly the success of the representatives of my team brings big happiness and joy to me and to all the coaches and people who train and work together for that success.
“But these are absolutely different feelings, feelings when you do something yourself and achieve success yourself and then you can see that your students also go the same way and get the success and not only one, but two, and we hope we’ll get more. We hope that Anatoly Tokov will be moving forward as well.”
With almost 40 pro victories and a 28-fight unbeaten streak that is widely considered to be one of the greatest achievements in combat sports, Emelianenko knows his place in the history books is secure even without ever having competed under the UFC banner.
He stopped short of saying that forging a legacy without a single walk to the octagon was some kind of achievement, focusing more on what his success meant for his home country.
“I cannot say that I’m proud of that, I can say that I’m happy that through my fights and through my career more people in the world learned about Russia and keep learning about Russia,” Emelianenko said. “The relation towards Russia changes in spite of the fact of propaganda and publicity against Russia in many countries nowadays. In spite of the fact that there are a lot of people who keep good relationships and attitudes towards Russia and Russian people.”
Fedor Emelianenko tells @arielhelwani there is a "chance" #BellatorMoscow could be the last fight of his career:— MMAFighting.com (@MMAFighting) October 20, 2021
"I'm surprised I'm still in the sport. … It depends on my physical condition after the fight."
▶️ WATCH #TheMMAHour: https://t.co/zQh0i8F5Ez pic.twitter.com/FRCyAr69Qi
Emelianenko could cross the 40-win mark and possibly end his career with a couple more wins if all goes according to plan, which would be a cherry on 21-year career that will never be duplicated. Beyond his accomplishments in the ring and in the cage, Emelianenko has a humble request for his remembrance.
“I want people to remember about me and to recall me as an Orthodox Christian,” Emelianenko said. “I don’t want my name to be associated with some trash talk or dirty things. I want people to have some joy and some positive feelings and associations when they recall my name.”