Recently toppled heavyweight MMA legend Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko was handed what many believe to be his first legitimate loss late last June by Brazilian jiu-jitsu practitioner Fabricio Werdum under the Strikeforce banner. Despite succumbing to a triangle choke just over a minute into the first round, Emelianenko does not believe he lost to a superior fighting style; instead, the Sambo practitioner told Russian website Gazeta.ru that he believes he lost because of his own mistakes.
“Sambo is great. Jiu-jitsu is nothing special. We went over several jiu-jitsu guys like that before. I lost because of what happened,” Emelianenko said. “My loss was caused by my personal mistake in the cage… I lost my head. Wanted to finish it all as soon as possible.”
The utter shock caused by Werdum’s highly unlikely victory spurred the creation and spreading of several rumors and theories explaining how Emelianenko lost. The rumors ranged from the absurd: Emelianenko purposely lost because his fame was contradicting with his religious beliefs; to the played out: Fedor threw the fight to make some money. The rumors were persistent enough to draw comment from Emelianenko himself, who maintains that he lost fair and square.
“As far as the rumours about my last fight being set up… I was asked about it many times already,” Fedor said. “I will never go against my conscience and never betray my country like that. Money doesn’t matter that much to me that I could lie to people. Since I lost to Werdum, it was meant to be. And I’m thankful to God it happened that way.”
Strikeforce and Emelianenko’s management team, M-1 Global, are currently in negotiations to determine who Fedor will face in his next fight, his last under his current contract with the organization. M-1 is pushing for a rematch with Werdum but recent comments made by Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker seem to indicate that the promotion is not all that interested in rehashing that bout at this time. More likely an opponent for Emelianenko’s next fight is Strikeforce Heavyweight Champion Alistair Overeem, whom Coker has expressed interest in as Fedor’s next opponent multiple times regardless of “The Last Emperor’s” recent loss. Coker has also mentioned that Sergei Kharitonov and Antonio “Giant” Silva could possibly come next for Emelianenko but the determining factor will likely be exactly how long negotiations with the notoriously difficult M-1 executives end up taking.