5 Things You Might Not Know About Fedor Emelianenko

No one wants to say goodbye to legends, even though Father Time dictates that we must.

Fedor Emelianenko will bid farewell to the mixed martial arts world when he challenges Ryan Bader for the undisputed Bellator MMA heavyweight championship in the Bellator 290 headliner on Saturday at The Forum in Inglewood, California. The two men met once previously, with Bader scoring a 35-second technical knockout a little more than four years ago. Emelianenko, 46, has since rebounded with back-to-back victories over Quinton Jackson and Tim Johnson, setting the stage for his swan song.

As Emelianenko makes his way towards his five-round showdown with Bader and tries to leave the sport as a champion, here are five things you might not know about him:

1. He was raised under the hammer and sickle.

Emelianenko was born in Rubizhne, Ukraine, in what was then the Soviet Union on Sept. 28, 1976. His family moved to Stary Oskol, Russia—roughly 400 miles south of Moscow—when he was still a toddler. Emelianenko resides and trains there to this day.

2. His competitive exploits extend beyond mixed martial arts.

“The Last Emperor” is a four-time world champion on combat sambo. Emelianenko struck gold inside the World Combat Sambo Federation in 2002 and inside the International Federation of Amateur Sambo in 2002, 2005 and 2007.

3. Staying power fuels his historic profile.

Emelianenko made his professional mixed martial arts debut at the age of 23 when he submitted Martin Lazarov with a first-round guillotine choke at a Rings event on May 21, 2000. He has since posted wins in three different decades: the 2000s, the 2010s and the 2020s. By the time Emelianenko rematches Bader, he will have been an active mixed martial artist for a remarkable 8,294 days.

4. He ruled with iron fists.

The Vladimir Voronov protégé was one of only two heavyweight titleholders in Pride Fighting Championships history. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira—a man Emelianenko decisively defeated twice—was the other. The Russian laid claim to the title with a unanimous decision over Nogueira at Pride 25 on March 16, 2003, retained it on four occasions and remained in possession of it until the organization was shuttered in 2007.

5. His travels have been surprisingly limited.

Despite the scope and scale of his stardom, Emelianenko has only fought in four different countries: Russia, Japan, Lithuania and the United States. He has spent the majority of his career in The Land of the Rising Sun, where he has pieced together 25-1 record with one no contest across his 27 appearances.
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