Fedor Emelianenko Discusses Dana White, UFC, Pride & Retirement
Fedor, very quiet since his retirement in 2012, the PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko finally sat down for a rare interview with AXS TV’s Michael Schiavello.
The son of a boxer, Fedor started training in Sambo at age 11, but says he only started realizing after serving tme in the Russian Army between 1995 and 1997. Arriving in PRIDE in 2002, nobody predicted the sort of run Emelianenko would put together.
Despite his perfect 14-0-1 record under PRIDE, Fedor believes Executives were never entirely sure as to how to best market him and his talents.
“No one expected me to become a champion,” said Emelianenko. “As far as what the promoters wanted or didn’t want, I was not paying any attention to this. This is life. Even when I didn’t want something, I had to take it into account.
“I’ll say that later on that PRIDE wanted Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira to win the title and also Mirko Filipovic to become champion. I could feel it and see it, but you can’t pay attention to this because it can shatter your psyche. You shouldn’t pay attention to this. You should come out, do your thing and win.”
While Emelianenko describes his most memorable and toughest bout;
“This is no surprise. If I had to pick it would probably by my first fight with Antonio Nogueira because it was for a title, and I won. Then, it was my fight with Mirko.”
Following his shocking upset loss to Fabricio Werdum in 2010, Fedor was quoted as saying, ‘Everything in this life happens for some reason.’ Looking back, the Russian blames the loss on his own carelessness.
“If we analyze it, I was definitely rushing, rushing in that fight,” said Fedor. “I was rushing to beat my opponent completely, and I didn’t pay attention. I was careless to the techniques that Werdum was applying. If this happened earlier maybe I would have been more careful, but I wanted to finish the fight as soon as possible. I felt a sense of victory when he fell down. I wanted to beat him completely, to finish the fight.”
He went on to say, “I’m very grateful to God for what he gives me. Victories, remarkable victories, but you have to go through the defeats. That is why I praise God for everything.”
Emelianenko then briefly describes his trademark apathetic expression before his matches, explaining how he felt. “It would be inappropriate to show pre-fight emotion.”
“I always remember that I represent myself, but also my country. People are making judgments about Russian people based on me. This is why I never allow myself any aggression towards my opponent.”
“A fighter, a real strong fighter should always look dignified and calm and I believe that any expression of aggression is an expression of weakness. A strong person will not be nervous and will not express aggression towards his opponent. He will be confident in his abilities and his training, then he will face the fight calm and balanced.”
Regarding the UFC and president Dana White, Emelianenko described the Zuffa boss to be perfectly likeable and respectful in person.
“When we talked during face-to-face conversations he didn’t behave in a rude or bad way. There was nothing provocative, but later in some interview, somewhere separately, I heard that he spoke out and was very disrespectful. But in our conversation he was very reserved and very respectful.”
Denying any rumors that he was offered $5 million by the UFC for a single fight, Fedor wasn’t willing to speculate on how fighting heavyweight champ Brock Lesnar might have turned out.
“I don’t think about it,” Emelinenko laughs. “I don’t think about fights that didn’t happen.”
When asked if there was any fighter he wishes he had competed against, Emelianenko says “No, I have no regrets.”
“I’ve already fought my share. God gave me a rich, eventful career and I thank God for everything, but I’m done fighting.”
According to Emelianenko, ‘Only God’s will’ could force him back inside the cage.
I know Fedor is beyond his prime, but as a fan there’s some part of me still hoping to see Fedor in the ring one more time!