Former PRIDE Heavyweight Champion Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko is set to make his return to Strikeforce and his fifth trip back to fight in the US this weekend when he takes on jiu-jitsu ace Fabricio Werdum. In a video released by Strikeforce to promote the fight, the Russian MMA great spoke about competing in the United States and offered a little insight into his preparation for a fight.
Emelianenko spent most of his MMA career competing in Russia and in Japan and it was not until his fight against Mark Coleman at PRIDE 32 that he fought stateside. He has since fought three times in the US, twice under the Affliction banner and once, most recently, in his Strikeforce debut against Brett Rogers. An intensely proud Russian, it comes as a bit of a surprise but Emelianenko enjoys competing in the US and attributes that to the attitude of US MMA fans.
“I’m very happy to be performing here because the audience is very understanding and welcoming and there are very faithful fans of MMA here. I’m very happy to be back here,” Emelianenko said.
“The Last Emperor” is an enigma to many fans as the language barrier and his soft-spoken demeanor prevent them from gaining much insight into Emelianenko’s personality. While not exactly shattering his privacy barrier, Emelianenko did go into some detail during the interview about the way he prepares mentally for a fight; saying that his faith bestows upon him the ability to remain stone-cold before, during, and after fights.
“Usually I don’t think about the fight,” said Fedor. “I’m trying to adjust myself mentally. Usually I pray before the fight. I think mental preparation is very important so I pray before the fight and it appears so I come before the fight in the top of my physical and mental shape.”
In addition to discussing his mental preparation, Emelianenko also revealed an interesting bit of knowledge about his training diet, or lack thereof.
“I do not follow any diet,” he said. “If there is no Lent I eat practically everything but if there is a Lent I go on the Lent.”
Emelianenko will take on Werdum this Saturday at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California. Also on the card for this event is feared Strikeforce Women’s Featherweight Champion Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos who will be defending her title against Jan Finney. Cung Le and Scott Smith will be revisiting their “Strikeforce: Evolution” meeting and former Strikeforce Lightweight Champion Josh Thomson will look to get closer to a title shot against fellow lightweight contender Pat Healy.