Emelianenko is arguably the greatest heavyweight of all time.
In his 18-plus years competing for various mixed martial arts
promotions, he has compiled a 37-5 (1 N/C) record. The 42-year-old
Russian veteran is currently participating in Bellator
MMA’s heavyweight grand prix. His next appearance will be in
the tournament’s semi-finals opposite Chael Sonnen
208 on Saturday.
In build-up to the clash, here are five things that you might not
know about the legendary fighter known as “The Last Emperor.”
1. He was unbeaten for 10 years.
In December 2000, in the second round of the Rings “King of Kings”
tournament, Emelianenko competing in only his fifth professional
contest, faced Tsuyoshi Kohsaka. 17-seconds in, the match was
controversially called off by the doctor due to a cut. Emelianenko
was not to taste defeat across his next 28 bouts, spanning a period
of nearly 10 years. This remarkable streak entailed 27 wins and 1
draw. 21 (78 percent) of those triumphs came by way of stoppage. 14
(52 percent) were submissions, with a further 7 (26 percent) coming
via KO/TKO. 18 (67 percent) of those victories were first round
2. He has married his wife twice.
In 1999, the young Emelianenko, recently removed from a stint as a
military firefighter, married his childhood sweetheart, Oksana.
Later that year, their daughter Masha was born. In 2006, the couple
filed for divorce. Three years later in 2009, “The Last Emperor”
tied the knot with his long-term partner, Marina. But the union did
not work out and the couple eventually went their separate ways. In
2014, Emelianenko remarried his first wife, Oksana.
3. He is a religious man.
Emelianenko is a devout Russian Orthodox Christian. The pious
heavyweight is regularly to be found worshipping at the church of
St. Nicholas in his hometown of Stary Oskol. He once said in an
interview. “I fight to glorify the Christian faith and the Lord
God, Jesus Christ.” A modest man by all accounts, he attributes God
for his achievements.
4. He is a decorated combat sambo practitioner.
Emelianenko was 11 when he commenced combat sambo tuition. Although
he went on to be accepted onto both the Russian judo and sambo
national teams, it was the sambo mat where he really excelled. He
remains one of the sport’s most successful competitors of all time.
Emelianenko’s accolades include six Russian Championship gold
medals, a European Championship winner’s medal and four first place
finishes at the pinnacle of the sport, the World Championships. If
there had been a viable income to be earned from combat sambo
competition, it is likely that Emelianenko would never have pursued
a career in MMA.
5. He is involved in politics.
The proud Russian is an avid supporter of President Putin and his
United Russia political party. Since 2010, he has been actively
involved in politics. In the fall of that year, he was elected for
a 5-year term as deputy of the Belgorod Regional Duma. Two years
later, in 2012, he succeeded current Russian Prime Minister Dmitry
Medvedev as a staff member of Russia’s Council of Physical Fitness
& Sport. Emelianenko has been vocal in his support of Russian
interests in the Crimea and an ardent critic of what he regards as
Ukrainian aggression in the ongoing Donbass War.