What we learned from Fedor Emelianenko, Russia’s monster of MMA

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Fedor Emelianenko / Photo by Luca Atalla/GRACIEMAG

The fight between Fedor Emelianenko and Pedro Rizzo last Friday in Saint Petersburg provoked two distinct emotions. On Rizzo’s return to Brazil, he was reflexive, wanting to get straight back to training to see if he still has a return to the cage in him, after getting knocked out in 1:24 minutes. Whereas the winner, amid his fans and leader Vladimir Putin, didn’t do too much thinking. Fedor, while still in the M-1 Global ring, announced that he had wrapped up his professional MMA career after 12 years of glory and a sparse few defeats.

What have you learned from Fedor Emelianenko, the monster who went from 2000 to 2010 without losing once? We came up with some of our own.


Fedor was unbeaten in his career up until 2010. One day, he lost to Fabricio Werdum, and to make matters worse he did so tapping out, stuck in a triangle before the eyes of the millions of spectators watching Strikeforce on TV. What did he do? “I immediately went back home after the fight, and carried on living just as I had before. I didn’t think about the loss, since things are as they should be,” he stated.


Fedor Emelianenko came to fame at Pride FC during the days of Rodrigo Minotauro, Mirko Cro Cop, Mark Hunt and the other heavyweight beasts featuring on the promotion’s star-studded roster. If you want to be good, train and fight with good fighters. If you want to be the best, face the best, always.


Fedor was already the biggest star of the Pride FC days, known in Japan as “The Emperor,” and even so he still competed at sambo tournaments in Russia. He’d lose every now and again; but he’d learn.


The dazed look in Fedor’s eyes gave no sign of it, but there was a flame burning inside him. It was the desire to fight for something more than just the hefty check he’d be handed afterwards. “MMA is the way I found to represent my country. It’s the way I have to please the fans, the people who cheer for me. And specially, it’s the thing I found I was best at. That’s why I keep doing it,” he said one time.


“The best and strongest fighter in the world has to be able to beat all opponents, but that’s not all. He has to respect the other fighters, understand the circumstances of fighting and do a good job of communicating to the fans and the press,” preached Fedor Emelianenko. In these times of Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen, that’s quite a lesson.


When he’d attend a Pride FC event just to watch, not to fight, Fedor was always shooting the breeze, swilling vodka and joking around with everybody. Even if you’re the best in the world, never lose your good cheer nor desire to have a good time.

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