Pride FC legend Fedor Emelianenko was once considered to be the best pound-for-pound fighter on the planet; two losses later and the 34-year-old’s career is being called into question.
Slated to face fellow Pride vet and natural light heavyweight Dan Henderson this July 30, “The Last Emperor’s” future in MMA will likely be decided by the outcome of that fight. Emelianenko’s manager, M-1 Global boss Vadim Finkelstein, spoke recently (props to FightersOnly.com) about what a loss to Henderson would likely mean for the Russian great.
“I think that if Fedor loses to Dan Henderson, he will retire from mixed martial arts,” said Finkelstein. “And like I said many times before, it will be his decision and we [at M-1 Global] have no influence of any kind on whatever he decides to do. It’s all up to him, but we hope for the best. Fedor is very motivated, and will be more than ready for this fight. He has a new goal, and is fully concentrated on reaching it.”
For his part, Emelianenko told Russian site Championa.ru (again, props to FightersOnly.com) that he heavily mulled over the decision to hang up his gloves following his most recent loss to Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, but that he concluded it to be the wrong time.
“Two mistakes in a row is not a coincidence. I didn’t want to make the third, so that’s why I considered retirement,” said Emelianenko. “But then, I discussed the situation with my trainers and my spiritual father. When I returned home, I was fully convinced that it’s not the right time to retire, but to continue fighting.”
In addition to lauding his impending opponent’s ability to combine wrestling and striking, Emelianenko pointed out that styles make fights and that Henderson has struggled before where many thought he would emerge victorious.
“Henderson is an exciting fighter,” he said. “But there were also fights where he had to sweat against a relatively weaker competition. It’s all about how you match-up up against your opponent… Dan Henderson had some fights where things didn’t go his way.”
Emelianenko and Henderson will square off at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson on July 30 at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.