Mixed martial arts legend Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko is fighting Matt Mitrione at Bellator 172 after a four-year hiatus from the sport where he is widely considered the greatest ever.
Fedor has amassed a record of 36-4-1 with notable wins over Ricardo Arona, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and Antônio Rodrigo “Minotauro” Nogueira (twice). During his PRIDE run during 2001 to 2009, he won 28-straight fights and exerted a kind of nine-year dominance that is unlikely to ever be challenged.
He is a one-time and the last PRIDE Heavyweight Champion, the 2004 PRIDE Grand Prix Champion and the only holder of the WAMMA Heavyweight Championship, used in the Donald Trump-owned Affliction Entertainment mixed martial arts promotion.
He retired in 2012, only to announce his return four years later in 2015. He currently competes in Rizin Fighting Federation and Bellator MMA.
Here are 5 Fast Facts about Fedor Emelianenko that you need to know:
1. He Is Considered The Best Ever After Remaining Undefeated For 10 Years
No other fighter has amassed the amount of MMA accolades over the course of their career like Fedor, which is no surprise when you learn he was undefeated for a decade. His first loss was at the hands of Tsuyoshi Kohsaka at Rings: King of Kings tournament on Dec. 22, 2000. An elbow by Kohsaka caused a technical knockout by doctor’s stoppage just 17-seconds into the first round.
Following that loss, Fedor went on a 28-fight unbeaten streak (including winning a rematch against Kohsaka by doctor’s stoppage) and captured championships in three different promotions. He was named Fighter of the Decade by Sports Illustrated, along with several other publications.
Multiple sports and MMA media; including ESPN, MMAFighting.com and Sherdog; list him as the greatest MMA heavyweight fighter of all time. Fedor is the longest-reigning heavyweight lineal champion and the #1 pound-for-pound ranked fighter in MMA history.
His reign came to an end June 26, 2010, when Fedor suffered his first loss in 10 years to Fabrício Werdum, who sunk in a deep armbar for the tap at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum. He lost twice more consecutively to Antônio “Bigfoot” Silva and Dan Henderson before his four-year retirement.
2. Fedor Started Judo Training When He Was 12-Years-Old
Fedor Vladimirovich Emelianenko was born Sept. 28, 1976, in Rubizhne, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union, to parents Vladimir and Olga Emelianenko. Both of his younger brothers, Aleksander and Ivan, are mixed martial artists and it is said that his mother was the one who encouraged them to pursue martial arts.
When he was 12-years-old, his first trainer, Vasiley Gavrilov, had to buy Fedor’s judo suit and training shoes he needed for class due to his family being poor. Fedor still trains with another trainer from that time period, Vladimir Voronov, who specializes in Sambo and Judo.
He trained for the Russian national Judo team in preparation for the Olympics in 1997, but decided to focus on MMA due to most of the fighters working as hired muscle for the Russian mafia.
2. He Is Friends With Russian President Vladimir Putin & Served In His Government
It is unknown what initially spurred the relationship between Fedor and Russian President Vladimir Putin, but it was probably their shared love of judo. Putin is a life-long practitioner of martial arts, starting with Sambo and eventually earning his 5th-degree black belt in Judo.
Putin has been seen at several of Fedor’s fights, including 2001’s M-1 Global card in Russia where Putin was booed by those in attendance, and has congratulated Fedor ringside after winning.
In 2012, Putin handpicked Fedor to replace Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Russia’s Presidential Council on Physical Culture and Sports. He also campaigned for Putin during his presidential reelection campaign that same year.
4. UFC Relentlessly Pursued Fedor & Tried To Get Him To Fight Brock Lesnar
The saga of Fedor and the UFC goes back more than a decade, and it is debatable that the sole reason UFC’s parent company Zuffa bought PRIDE was in effort to lure Fedor into the American promotion.
After the collapse of Affliction Entertainment in 2009, UFC President Dana White tried to sign Fedor to an exclusive contract for a title shot at then-UFC Heavyweight Champion and former WWE wrestler Brock Lesnar.
Fedor was offered $2 million per fight; however, contract negotiations fell through due to UFC not wanting to cross-promote with M-1 Global. In 2012, during Fedor’s retirement, White tried to lure “The Last Emperor” out of retirement to fight Lesnar, but it never happened.
5. Donald Trump Planned A Fighting Fedor Reality Show
In 2008, Affliction Clothing created an off-shoot mixed martial arts promotion called Affliction Entertainment, with Fedor being its prized fighter. President Donald Trump was the company’s main equity shareholder, and was often seen wearing Affliction clothing during the promotion’s two events.
Fedor faced former two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia at the promotion’s first event, Affliction: Banned, where he submitted Sylvia in 36 seconds to win the WAMMA Heavyweight Championship. At the time of the fight, Sylvia was the fourth-ranked heavyweight fighter in MMA by Sherdog.
In October 2008, Affliction announced plans for a 15-episode reality TV show, Fighting Fedor, in which 16 unknown competitors would fight for the opportunity to face the legendary MMA champion.
“The show will be spectacular,” Trump said in a release. “It will be taped in St. Petersburg, Russia … I’m going to be there.”
In January 2009, Fedor nearly lost against Andrei “Pitbull” Arlovski at Affliction: Day of Reckoning. Arlovksi, who was on a five-fight win streak, was ranked #2 by Sherdog at the time. After rocking Fedor, Arlovski attempted a flying knee and was knocked out at 3:14 of the first round.
On June 22, 2009, 11 days before Affliction: Trilogy, MMA veteran Josh Barnett tested positive in pre-screening drug test for anabolic steroids. Two days later, Affliction announced it had folded its MMA promotion and the TV show never happened.