M-1: Fedor Emelianenko’s Next Fight Set for June 21 in Russia

Fedor Emelianenko

‘The Last Emperor’ looks for third straight victory since three-fight Strikeforce skid

If you were holding out hope that the UFC would pull off a last-minute signing of Fedor Emelianenko to face Junior dos Santos next month, you might not want to hold your breath.

Evgeni Kogan, director of operations for M-1 Global, on Friday Tweeted that the Russian heavyweight, who for years was regarded as the best mixed martial arts fighter in the world, has booked his next fight – and it won’t be against dos Santos. Kogan said “The Last Emperor” will fight June 21 against a still-unnamed opponent at the Ice Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia. On Friday afternoon, MMA Junkie reported that opponent is likely to be former WWE and Strikeforce heavyweight Bobby Lashley, the Shark Fights heavyweight champion.

Emelianenko (33-4, 1 NC) has gone 2-0 since his now-infamous three-fight losing streak in Strikeforce. He beat Brett Rogers in November 2009 in his Strikeforce debut, the latest in a long string of victories that stretched back nearly a decade without a loss. But in June 2010, his reign finally came to an end when he was submitted by Fabricio Werdum. In the first round of the Strikeforce heavyweight tournament, he was stopped by Antonio Silva after two rounds when a doctor said the Russian couldn’t continue – with one eye nearly sealed shut. And last July, in a superfight against Dan Henderson, he lost by first-round TKO.

Emelianenko’s name has been bandied about by fans and media alike in the last two days after UFC 146 main event heavyweight Alistair Overeem tested positive for elevated testosterone levels, which likely will keep him out of his title fight next month against dos Santos – and likely will have the UFC in need of a replacement to face its champion. With Frank Mir and Cain Velasquez already booked to meet for the right for the next title shot, the UFC could go in one of several directions, including elevating Mir or Velasquez into the main event. But some have hypothesized that the time is right for the promotion to make one last run at Emelianenko in the hopes of signing him and giving him a shot at dos Santos.

UFC president Dana White is no stranger to negotiations with Emelianenko, but they always have broken down, according to White, over one issue – M-1’s insistence on co-promoting Fedor’s fights with the UFC. The UFC has stood firm in its stance that will never happen, and when Emelianenko signed with Strikeforce in 2009, it was with an agreement to co-promote his fights. Strikeforce had not yet been purchased by Zuffa, which also owns the UFC.

White has been adamant, especially during Emelianenko’s losing streak, that he has no interest in signing him, and White’s rough history with M-1 made such a scenario a long shot at best.

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