Fedor Emelianenko almost had a different opponent at Rizin Fighting Federation’s New Year’s Eve event.
World Series of Fighting President Ray Sefo, who owns a 2-2 MMA record and has extensive professional kickboxing experience, says that he was offered the fight against the Russian a little more than a month before the card. However, Sefo turned it down, citing a lack of time to prepare for a bout against “The Last Emperor.”
“The opportunity to fight him was actually offered to me, I think five weeks out from the actual New Year’s Eve fight,” Sefo wrote on WSOF.com. “I was honored, but I told the guys, ‘Listen, that fight, I would love to have. He’s a legend in this sport. Win or lose for me, it would be amazing to get in there.’
“But at the same time, I said, ‘Five weeks is not enough for me to prepare for someone like Fedor. He’s a guy that I don’t want to just jump in there. That’s disrespectful to him and disrespectful to myself.’”
Instead, Emelianenko forced Jaideep Singh to tap to punches 3:02 into the opening round of their heavyweight clash in Japan on Dec. 31. Had Sefo been offered the bout sooner, things might have been different.
“I can get ready to fight a kickboxing fight in five weeks. But for me to fight an MMA fight, I want at least 10 weeks to get ready for it,” Sefo wrote. “So five weeks wasn’t enough for me to take that fight, and we turned it down. But if that fight was ever offered to me, and I was offered 10 weeks to get ready for it, I would take it in a heartbeat.”
Not long after his triumphant return, Emelianenko revealed that he would likely fight again in April for Rizin, and that the event could feature another joint promotion. Whether it’s himself or another fighter, Sefo wouldn’t mind seeing WSOF involved in the Russian’s next bout.
“Perhaps that chance will come again next year, as it seems like Fedor’s new promotion, Rizin, will return in April. If not, I would love to see our heavyweight champion, Blagoy Ivanov, fight Fedor this year,” Sefo said. “Blagoy famously defeated Fedor in combat sambo during the height of The Last Emperor’s run as the greatest heavyweight in the sport of MMA. That history between the two is intriguing, and this could be the perfect time for them to fight in MMA.”