Fedor Vladimirovich Emelianenko (Russian: Фёдор Влади́мирович Емелья́ненко, tr. Fyodor Vladimirovich Yemelyanenko, IPA: [ˈfʲɵdər vlɐˈdʲimʲɪrəvʲɪtɕ jɪmʲɪˈlʲjænʲɪnkə]; born 28 September 1976) is a Russian heavyweight mixed martial artist (MMA), sambist, and judoka, currently competing for Rizin Fighting Federation and Bellator MMA. He has won championships and accolades in multiple sports, most notably in MMA Pride Fighting Championships (heavyweight champion 2003-2007), FIAS World Combat Sambo Championship (Heavyweight Champion 2002, 2005, 2007), and Russian Judo Federation National Championship (Bronze medal 1998, 1999).
|Born||28 September 1976|
Rubizhne, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
|Native name||Фёдор Владимирович Емельяненко|
|Other names||The Last Emperor|
|Residence||Stary Oskol, Belgorod Oblast, Russia|
|Height||6 ft 0 in (183 cm)|
|Weight||233 lb (106 kg; 16 st 9 lb)|
|Reach||76 in (193 cm)|
|Fighting out of||Stary Oskol, Belgorod, Russia|
Red Devil Sport Club/Alexander Nevsky OAMK (2003–2012)
Russian Top Team (2000–2003)
|Trainer||Judo, Sambo: Vladimir Voronov |
Boxing: Alexander Michkov
Muay Thai: Peter Teijsse
Kickboxing: Ernesto Hoost
|Rank||1st Razryad Grand Master in Sambo |
Black belt and International Master of Sport in Judo
|Years active||2000–2012, 2015–present (MMA)|
|Mixed martial arts record|
|Occupation||Council of Physical Fitness & Sports (2012–present) |
Russian MMA Union (president; 2012–present)
Belgorod Regional Duma (deputy; 2010–present)
M-1 Global (co-owner; 2007–present)
Russian Ground Forces (tank division; 1995–1997)
|University||Belgorod State University (department of physical education; g. 2008)|
|Spouse||Marina (m. 2009, div. 2013) |
Oksana (m. 1999, div. 2006, m. 2014)
|Children||Elizabeth (b. 2011) |
Vasilisa (b. 2007)
Masha (b. 1999)
|Notable relatives||Aleksander Emelianenko (brother) |
Ivan Emelianenko (brother)
|Notable students||Kirill Sidelnikov |
|Notable club(s)||Champions for Peace (2011–present)|
|Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog|
|Men's Combat Sambo|
|2008 St. Petersburg||+100 kg|
|2007 Prague||+100 kg|
|2005 Prague||+100 kg|
|2002 Panama City||+100 kg|
|World Combat Sambo Federation|
|2002 Thessaloniki||+100 kg|
|1999 Istanbul||+100 kg|
|2012 Moscow||+100 kg|
|2009 Kstovo||+100 kg|
|2008 St. Petersburg||+100 kg|
|2007 Ulan-Ude||+100 kg|
|2005 Kstovo||+100 kg|
|2002 Moscow||+100 kg|
|2000 Orenburg||+100 kg|
|1998 Kaliningrad||+100 kg|
|1998 Kstovo||-100 kg|
Emelianenko began his MMA career on 21 May 2000, with four straight victories. After a controversial loss in December 2000, Emelianenko was unbeaten in his next 28 fights up until June 2010, including wins over four former UFC champions, one Pride FC champion, one former and two future K-1 champions, and two Olympic medalists.
Emelianenko has earned numerous MMA accolades. Sports Illustrated, among other publications, named him the top MMA fighter of the 2000s.
On 14 July 2015, after a three-year hiatus from mixed martial arts, Emelianenko announced that he was returning to active competition. As of October 26, 2021, he is #3 in the Bellator Heavyweight Rankings.
Emelianenko was born in 1976 in the city of Rubizhne, Luhansk Oblast, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union. In 1978, when he was two, his family moved within the Soviet Union to Stary Oskol, Belgorod of the Russian SFSR. His mother, Olga Fedorovna, was a teacher, and his father, Vladimir Alexandrovich, was a welder.
At age 11, Emelianenko began to practice Sambo and Judo under the tutelage of Vasily Ivanovich Gavrilov. A year later, he was admitted to sport classes taught by Vladimir Voronov, a coach who worked with him. Voronov died in August 2020 due to complications caused by coronavirus. According to Voronov, Emelianenko did not stand out from his peers initially but would achieve future success thanks to his own perseverance and hard work for many years.
Emelianenko finished high school in 1991 and graduated with honors from a professional trade school as a Electrician in 1994. From 1995–97, he served in the Russian Army as a Military Firefighter and then as a member of the Tank Division near Nizhny Novgorod. During this time his parents divorced.
Mixed martial arts career
Emelianenko began his mixed martial arts as a member of Russian Top Team (RTT), a stable linked to Fighting Network RINGS where he trained under senior members like Volk Han and Andrei Kopylov. After his bout with Gary Goodridge, the Emelianenko brothers left Russian Top Team and began to train in St. Petersburg with Red Devil Sport Club, managed by Vadim Finkelchtein. Finkelchtein would remain his manager up until his first retirement in mid 2012. Emelianenko is also a member of the VOS gym in the Netherlands, where he trains with Johan Vos and Lucien Carbin. Emelianenko has trained with the likes of Ernesto Hoost, Tyrone Spong, and Denis Lebedev.
Emelianenko suffered his first loss in the sport with RINGS. The defeat was controversial, by Tsuyoshi Kohsaka at the King of Kings 2000 Block B event on 22 December 2000, via doctor stoppage due to a cut 17 seconds into the fight. Footage shows that the cut was caused by a missed looping punch where Kohsaka's elbow struck Emelianenko's head. Emelianenko said that this elbow reopened a cut sustained in his previous fight against Ricardo Arona. The controversy surrounding the loss was due to the fact elbow strikes were illegal for the event.
After defeating Renato Sobral in an elimination bout, Emelianenko fought for the World Heavyweight Class Championship against Bobby Hoffman the same night. However, Hoffman refused to fight Emelianenko, asserting he had sustained an injury to his shoulder during his previous match, and forfeited. Emelianenko was awarded the win by default and he was given the RINGS Heavyweight Class Championship.
PRIDE Fighting championships
Entering the Pride Fighting Championships on the heels of winning the RINGS King of Kings 2002 tournament, Emelianenko debuted at Pride 21 on 23 June 2002 against the 6 ft 11 in (2.11 m), 256 lb (116 kg) Dutch fighter Semmy Schilt, whom he defeated by unanimous decision. His next opponent was heavyweight Heath Herring, in a contest to establish the number-one heavyweight contender. Emelianenko, considered an underdog, dominated Herring with ground-and-pound, winning by doctor-stoppage after the first round.
PRIDE Heavyweight Championship
Emelianenko was then signed to fight heavily favored Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira for Pride's Heavyweight Championship title at Pride 25 on 16 March 2003. Nogueira was coming off wins against Mark Coleman, Heath Herring and an upset comeback victory against Bob Sapp, as well as victory in the RINGS 2000 King of Kings Tournament, in which Emelianenko had participated. Nogueira was considered by many fans to be virtually unbeatable, due to his endurance and submission skills. Emelianenko rocked him early with punches and Nogueira pulled guard. Emelianenko survived Nogueira's guard, considered the most dangerous in MMA and easily defended all of Nogueira's submission attempts, dominating him for 20 minutes with a brutal ground and pound. The judges rendered a unanimous decision and Emelianenko became the second Pride Heavyweight Champion, a title he would never lose.
Three months later Emelianenko embarked on his title defense. His first match was against former IWGP Heavyweight champion, amateur and professional wrestler Kazuyuki Fujita. A heavy favorite, Emelianenko was expected to make quick work of Fujita, but was caught by a right hook that stunned him. Badly hurt, he worked his way to a clinch, but was taken down. With Fujita unable to amount a significant attack, Emelianenko was able to recover. He worked his way up and knocked Fujita down with body kick and a punching combo. He then submitted Fujita at 4:17 in the first round with a rear naked choke. Emelianenko reminisced about it in February 2009, "Fujita is the only one who ever hit me right, and he hit hard!".
Next came a one-sided bout against heavy underdog Gary "Big Daddy" Goodridge at Pride Total Elimination 2003. Emelianenko took down Goodridge after wobbling him with standing combinations, then finished him with ground and pound in the first round by referee stoppage. Emelianenko broke his hand in this fight, resulting in surgery. He has since reinjured this hand, leading to several postponed bouts. In 2011, Goodridge recalled his fight with Emelianenko; "Fedor hits so hard, I don't remember anything (from the fight). No one has his speed and power combo. He fought for 10 years at the top. He doesn't owe anything else to the sport."
His next fight against New Japan professional wrestler Yuji Nagata at Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003 ended the same way, with Emelianenko first knocking Nagata to the ground twice with punches. Emelianenko fought at this event as opposed to Shockwave 2003 on the same day due to a higher fight purse because of the competition between the Japanese television networks screening these events and K-1 Premium Dynamite!! on the same night. Pride then set up an interim title match between Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira and Mirko Cro Cop, which ended with Nogueira winning via second round armbar.
PRIDE 2004 Heavyweight World Grand Prix
A notable match with Coleman's protégé Kevin "The Monster" Randleman followed just two months later at the tournament's second round. Randleman, a two-time Division I NCAA Wrestling Champion for Ohio State University and a former UFC Heavyweight Champion, was coming off an upset win over Mirko Cro Cop, which he ended by knockout. Randleman quickly scored a takedown. As Emelianenko gave his back, Randleman delivered a German suplex, slamming him to the canvas headfirst, a move that would become one of the most replayed highlights in PRIDE's and MMA's history for years to come. Emelianenko, seemingly unfazed, rolled over Randleman a few seconds later, getting top position and forcing him to submit with a kimura armlock 1:33 into the first round.
On 15 August 2004, Emelianenko faced six-time All-Japan Judo Champion and Olympic Silver Medalist Naoya Ogawa in the semifinals of the 2004 Grand Prix. After making quick work of Ogawa, winning by armbar, he advanced to face Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira for the second time in his career. Nogueira had won a decision against Emelianenko's former teammate Sergei Kharitonov earlier that night. This match was not only to decide the winner of the 2004 Grand Prix, but to unify the heavyweight championship, as Nogueira was awarded the interim title due to Emelianenko's inability to defend his championship in a timely manner in the previous year. The rematch with Nogueira was very competitive, but the fight was stopped prematurely due to a cut to Emelianenko's head from an accidental head clash while on the ground. A third meeting was thus scheduled for Shockwave 2004, which Emelianenko won. On the line was PRIDE's Heavyweight Championship, and PRIDE's 2004 Heavyweight Grand Prix title, as the final match of the tournament earlier that year was declared a no contest due to an accidental headbutt. Emelianenko this time chose not to engage Nogueira on the ground, in spite of having dominated him there in their first match. He overpowered the Brazilian on his feet in the first round, beating him to the punch for the first nine minutes. Nogueira faced great difficulty, getting dropped with punches and tossed to the mat multiple times by Judo throws. He was not able to implement his game plan of putting Emelianenko on his back, save for the final 30 seconds of the first round. He was not able to pull guard for any considerable time. During the second and third rounds, Emelianenko's takedown defense and counter-punching earned him a unanimous decision victory to retain the heavyweight championship.
Title defense against Mirko Cro Cop
The match between Emelianenko and Cro Cop finally took place at PRIDE Final Conflict 2005. In the first round, Emelianenko was stunned and had his nose broken by two stiff jabs from Cro Cop. He got hit by body kicks that discolored his midsection. Emelianenko was then able to get the fight to the ground and land several body shots, which weakened his opponent. As the fight progressed, Emelianenko became more and more dominant, winning most of the stand up exchanges and scoring several takedowns. After 20 minutes, Emelianenko was awarded victory by unanimous decision.
Later PRIDE years
Although originally endangered due to Emelianenko's recurring hand injury, a plate inserted in his hand enabled a rematch with Coleman in Pride's American debut show, Pride 32. In a fight where Coleman was unable to mount any significant offense, Emelianenko pounded him in the first round with punches, before securing an armbar at 1:15 in the second round.
Emelianenko's last defense of his Pride Heavyweight title was against 2001 K-1 World Grand Prix champion Mark Hunt at Shockwave 2006. Josh Barnett was originally slated to fight Emelianenko for the Heavyweight title, but turned down the fight, asserting that he was unprepared. With Cro Cop's departure to the UFC organization in late 2006, Hunt became number-one contender. Sporting a broken toe during the contest, Emelianenko nevertheless secured an armbar in the second minute of the first round, but Hunt was able to escape and counter by stepping over Emelianenko, ending in side control. At five minutes into the first round, Hunt made two attempts at an americana on Emelianenko's left arm but failed to complete them. Emelianenko got back to his feet and after struggling to take the fight to the ground, he submitted Hunt with a kimura at 8:16 in the first round.
With a special clause in his Pride contract that allowed him to fight under the banner of any MMA organization as long as the event was held on Russian soil, Emelianenko accepted a match in BodogFight against Matt Lindland. The fight was held on 14 April 2007 at the "Clash of the Nations" event in St. Petersburg, Russia. Lindland moved up two weight classes (from middleweight to heavyweight) for the match and came in weighing 212.5 lb (96.5 kg) to Emelianenko's 230 lb (104.5 kg).
Early in the fight, Lindland opened a cut above Emelianenko's left eye and clinched with him, pushing him into the corner and working for a takedown. At this point, the referee warned Emelianenko against grabbing the ropes and Emelianenko corrected himself. After a few seconds in the clinch, Lindland attempted a bodylock takedown. When Lindland lifted Emelianenko from his feet, Emelianenko reversed the takedown, landing in Lindland's half guard. The fight then remained on the ground where Emelianenko won by submission via armbar at 2:58 of the first round.
After the purchase of Pride Fighting Championships by Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta III and the expiration of Emelianenko's Pride contract, there was speculation about him fighting in the UFC, especially after a public falling out between Bodog's Calvin Ayre and Emelianenko's manager, Vadim Finkelchtein. In a June 2007 interview with the Baltimore Sun, Chuck Liddell suggested that Emelianenko was on his way to the UFC. Dana White expressed interest in signing Emelianenko, but considered his management team to be the primary barrier, whereas Finkelchtein cited difficult negotiations as the reason. A main point of contention between the two was Finkelchtein's request for the UFC to work with his Russian M-1 promotion, extending contractual offers to other members of the Red Devil Sport Club, and permitting Emelianenko to compete in combat sambo tournaments. At UFC 76 however, UFC president Dana White stated that he expected Emelianenko to sign with the UFC in late 2007 or early 2008, after Emelianenko finished competing in a Sambo competition that White would not allow him to participate in under a UFC contract. He revealed his intent to set up a unification bout with UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture as his first UFC fight. Nevertheless, negotiations broke down, as Emelianenko committed to a non-exclusive, two-year and six-fight deal with M-1 Global in October 2007.
President and CEO of M-1 Global Monte Cox confirmed Emelianenko would face South Korean kickboxer Hong-man Choi in a New Year's Eve event, Yarennoka!, taking place in Japan and organized by former Pride staff with support from M-1 Global, FEG, and DEEP. A special rule was used for this fight to not allow any knee strikes on the ground. The fight was broadcast live in the United States on cable network HDNet. Emelianenko defeated Choi in the opening round by submission via an armbar.
Negotiations with DREAM
On 13 February 2008, Emelianenko attended a press conference held by Dream, a newly formed Japanese mixed martial arts promoter. Vadim Finkelchtein confirmed that the organization had a tightly knit alliance with M-1 Global and that Emelianenko would be fighting on the new organization's fight cards. M-1 Global CEO Vadim Finkelchtein recently revealed plans to organize a fight for Fedor in co-operation with Dream, possibly on New Year's Eve in Japan.
On 19 July 2008, at Affliction: Banned, Emelianenko faced former two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia. Sylvia was coming off a submission loss via guillotine choke at the hands of Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira at UFC 81 in a title fight for the interim UFC Heavyweight Championship. Sylvia was the fourth-ranked heavyweight fighter in MMA by Sherdog.com prior to his fight with Emelianenko.
Emelianenko defeated Sylvia in 36 seconds. He dropped him with a quick punch combination, took his back and then finished the fight via submission due to a rear naked choke. Sylvia said in the post-fight press conference, "I know that I'm one of the best in the world, I was amazed at how good Fedor is. He hurt me right away and submitted me. The guy's a stud. I don't even think he's human. That guy hits hard. I've never been hit that hard before."
Dana White, who had previously criticized the fighter, asserted that he was impressed with Emelianenko's performance against ex-UFC champion Sylvia. When asked if the submission win changed his opinion on Fedor, White said; "It does. Tim Sylvia was a real opponent."
On 24 January 2009, at Affliction: Day of Reckoning, Emelianenko fought former UFC Heavyweight Champion Andrei Arlovski, who was widely considered a top-5 heavyweight at the time. Arlovski was on a five-bout win streak and was ranked as high as No. 2 by Sherdog.com. Arlovski had some early success in the fight, landing punches and kicks. However, as Emelianenko backed into the ropes, Arlovski attempted a flying knee and Emelianenko was able to counter with an overhand right which resulted in a knockout of Arlovski at 3:14 of the first round. The victory was awarded knockout of the year for 2009 by Sherdog. The preparation for this bout overlapped with filming for the movie "The 5th Execution".
Emelianenko met Shinya Aoki during a five-minute "special exhibition" at a 29 April M-1 Challenge (presented by Affliction) event in Tokyo. Emelianenko made Aoki tap out from an Achilles lock just before the bell sounded to end the exhibition. In another exhibition match, Emelianenko met Gegard Mousasi, a friend and teammate, during M-1 Global: Breakthrough, held in Kansas City on 28 August. The two friends fought a competitive and friendly spirited exhibition with several Judo throws from both Emelianenko and Mousasi. Emelianenko finished the fight via armbar.
Emelianenko was scheduled to fight former UFC Heavyweight Champion Josh Barnett on 1 August 2009, at Affliction: Trilogy, but on 22 July Barnett was denied his license to compete by the California State Athletic Commission after testing positive for anabolic steroids. On 23 July 2009, Vitor Belfort – who was already on the card – was reported as a likely replacement, but the next day Affliction canceled the event citing limited time to find a suitable replacement and inadequate time to promote the fight.
Unsuccessful negotiations with the UFC
After the collapse of Affliction, UFC President Dana White tried repeatedly to sign Emelianenko to an exclusive UFC contract. White said of Emelianenko; "He has become my obsession. I want it (him in the UFC) worse than the fans want it." Widely considered to be the best heavyweight MMA fighter at the time, Emelianenko would receive an immediate title shot against then current UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar, an event that White deemed "huge". After reportedly offering Emelianenko a contract worth just under 2 million US dollars per fight, with incentives to make much more based on pay per view revenues for fights he headlined, negotiations fell apart after Emelianenko's management team demanded a co-promotion between UFC and M-1 Global, terms which White deemed unacceptable.
In 2012, White tried to lure Emelianenko out of retirement after overwhelming fan demand for a UFC bout between Emelianenko and Brock Lesnar. However, White stated that Emelianenko was firmly retired.
Following the failed negotiations with the UFC, Emelianenko signed a three-fight contract with Strikeforce. Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker confirmed that Emelianenko's debut would take place on 7 November, broadcast nationally on CBS.
Emelianenko's first fight in Strikeforce was against then-undefeated Brett Rogers in the main event of Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Rogers on 7 November 2009. Emelianenko won the fight via TKO in the second round.
Emelianenko suffered his first loss in 10 years on 26 June 2010 to Fabrício Werdum. After knocking Werdum down early in the first round, Emelianenko closed in, but Werdum secured a deep triangle and an armbar from his guard, and Fedor was forced to tap. Emelianenko stated through a translator on The MMA Hour that he considered retirement before the Werdum fight due to accumulating injuries and ageing.
In January 2011, it was announced that Fedor had agreed to enter the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, and would face Antônio Silva on 12 February in the first quarterfinal match. After a close first round, Silva took control in round 2. After passing to mount, he unleashed a barrage of ground-and-pound that ultimately caused Emelianenko's right eye to swell shut. Ringside doctors called a stop, stating that Emelianenko could not see.
Emelianenko faced Dan Henderson on 30 July 2011 at Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson. After both fighters landed significant punches in the first round, Fedor knocked Henderson down with a combination of strikes. Fedor followed Henderson to the mat and began to ground-and-pound him but Henderson was able to sweep and reverse position before delivering a punch underneath Fedor's armpit which landed on his chin, knocking Fedor unconscious, and sending him face first into the mat. Henderson continued to punch Fedor until referee Herb Dean jumped in to stop the fight. Dean explained, saying, "The fight is over when he's unconscious. Because he comes back swiftly after I've already stepped in and stopped the fight, I can't restart the fight. Dan's still throwing punches, but once I've touched Dan, I've stopped the fight. If I was to do it again – if I see a fighter face down receiving shots, I'm going to step in and stop the fight. I can't predict how long he's going to be unconscious for."
Following his third loss in a row, Emelianenko was reportedly released from Strikeforce. UFC president Dana White stated he was being released, "Yeah, he's being cut." However, Emelianenko disputed White's claims, saying, "That's Dana White's style to make comments. I didn't have a contract with Strikeforce. My current contract is with Showtime. So I think people shouldn't pay attention to these "loud" comments." According to M-1 Global Director of Operations Evgeni Kogan, Fedor was only under contract to Showtime and from there he fought under the Strikeforce banner, but was never a direct employee of Zuffa, and therefore was not "cut". "Strikeforce is not the only MMA promotion on Showtime so there are a number of options for Fedor which will be looked at," Kogan told MMA Weekly.
On 7 October 2011 Emelianenko stated "Yes, I've lost my last fights, but every time there were definite reasons for that. Some changes in my family took place at that time and they affected my performance. Certainly, there were mistakes in my preparations. Naturally, I was strained analyzing my fights,". Four days later, Emelianenko continued on the subject: "In the three bouts I lost, I felt like I could've won. But the win somehow eluded me. I felt I could do it. I had chances, but God's will was different."
2011–2012: Return to Russia, Japan and retirement
After four years, Emelianenko made his return to Japan—where he spent most of his career—at Fight For Japan: Genki Desu Ka Omisoka 2011 on 31 December 2011, facing Satoshi Ishii. Emelianenko won by knockout in the first round.
On 21 June 2012 in St. Petersburg, Russia, Emelianenko faced three-time UFC heavyweight title contender Pedro Rizzo in an M-1 Global event. Prior to the bout, it was rumored that Fedor would retire. Originally denying retirement rumors, Emelianenko made his announcement post-fight after defeating Rizzo by knockout in the first two minutes of the first round.
He was a top 10 heavyweight from January 2002 to July 2011 according to FightMatrix, holding the #1 rank from April 2003 to April 2010.
2015: Coming out of retirement
On 14 July 2015, after a three year hiatus from mixed martial arts, Emelianenko announced that he will be returning to active competition and has started training immediately. He was in negotiations with the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Bellator MMA. In a statement released through his management, Emelianenko added that he has retired from his position at the Russian Ministry of Sport, and will put all attention toward his comeback.
On 19 September 2015, at the Bellator 142 Dynamite 1 event, Fedor declared in English that he will fight on New Year's Eve for a newly created regional promotion in Japan, Rizin Fighting Federation, under the presidency of former Pride Fighting Championships boss Nobuyuki Sakakibara. Jaideep Singh and Tsuyoshi Kohsaka were initially in talks for being Fedor's opponent, but both fighters were ruled out for lack of competitiveness. Singh was eventually confirmed as the opponent and The Last Emperor easily won his comeback fight in the first round by submission to punches.
2016: Eurasia Fight Nights Global 50 fight versus Maldonado
Emelianenko faced Fábio Maldonado on 17 June 2016 competing for a promotion on the regional circuit in St. Petersburg (Russia). Despite being dropped and nearly finished in the first round, Emelianenko rallied over the last two rounds and was awarded a controversial majority decision victory. 4 of 5 media outlets scored the bout a draw. All three judges being appointed by the Russian MMA Union was pondered as a conflict of interest. In turn, in mid-July the official result was overturned to a draw. However, WMMAA has no real authority to change the outcome and its decision is merely symbolic in nature.
Emelianenko later announced that he was going to pursue his career and study all the proposals he had received; the most anticipated being the one from the UFC, which Emelianenko confirmed he received prior to the fight against Maldonado.
2017–present: Bellator MMA
On 20 November 2016 it was announced that Emelianenko would face Matt Mitrione at Bellator's 18 February 2017 show in San Jose, California at Bellator 172. The fight was canceled only few hours before the fight as Mitrione was suffering from kidney stones and the promoter was unable to line up a substitute opponent in such a short notice. This fight against Mitrione was rescheduled for the Bellator NYC on 24 June 2017. He lost the fight via knockout in the first round.
In November 2017, Bellator announced the 2018 Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix that will crown the Bellator Heavyweight champion, vacated in May 2016 by Vitaly Minakov. Eight fighters will compete between February and December 2018.
Emelianenko faced former UFC Heavyweight champion Frank Mir at Bellator 198 on 28 April 2018. The bout was part of the opening round of the Bellator Heavyweight Tournament. Emelianenko won the fight via TKO in the first round. He next faced Chael Sonnen in the semi-finals at Bellator 208 on 13 October 2018. Emelianenko won the fight via TKO in the first round.
In the final, Emelianenko faced Ryan Bader for the vacant Bellator Heavyweight World Championship in the main event at Bellator 214 on 26 January 2019. He lost the fight via knockout just 35 seconds into round one.
Despite contemplating retirement, news surfaced on 15 June 2019, that Emelianenko had signed a new exclusive, multi-fight contract with Bellator.
Legacy and fighting style
Sports Illustrated, among other publications, named Emelianenko as the top MMA fighter of the 2000s. Former combat sports fighters Chuck Norris and Mike Tyson; MMA fighters such as Junior dos Santos, Fabrício Werdum, Jose Aldo, and Georges St-Pierre; and several publications have called Emelianenko the greatest mixed martial artist of all time. MMA referee John McCarthy, sports commentator Michael Schiavello and others, have compared Emelianenko's impact and legacy in MMA to the likes of Muhammad Ali, Pelé, Wayne Gretzky, and their legacies in their respective sports. Sports and MMA media, ESPN, Bleacher Report, Sherdog, SB Nation (mmafighting) and Fight Matrix, list him as the greatest MMA heavyweight fighter of all time. Emelianenko is also the longest-reigning heavyweight lineal champion. As of 2021, Emelianenko has defeated seven former UFC champions. In 2020, UFC President Dana White stated that the only fight he regrets not having made was a match between Emelianenko and Brock Lesnar, when Lesnar was the UFC heavyweight champion.
Although Emelianenko is mainly known as a striker, he is considered to excel in all of the attributes of the MMA game. MMA analyst Jack Slack wrote that, "very few men can claim to have Olympic alternate level judo and still able to out-strike the best kickboxer in MMA history". Mixed martial arts champion and commentator Bas Rutten described Emelianenko's versatility as, "if you give him an arm, he arm-bars you. If you give him [check quotation syntax]a leg, he leg locks you. If you give him a punch, he knocks you out."[check quotation syntax] In the stand-up, Emelianenko's aggressive boxing makes a wide usage of the "Russian hook" or casting punch popularised by Igor Vovchanchyn, as well as other types of more technical power punches to the body and head. This, combined with smart footwork, allows him to disrupt the offence of more scientific strikers and land strikes. He frequently darts into striking range with either a left hook or an overhand right to disrupt counterpunches, resulting in a flurry of punches that often stun or flatten his opponents.
Emelianenko has shown a high level acumen of hip throws from judo and sambo to bring his adversary to the ground, preferring to work from the clinch as opposed to the more common leg take downs. Once on the mat, he favors a strategy of ground-and-pound executed with viciousness and dynamism, able to negate his opponent's work from the bottom and cause damage with heavy strikes. He rarely seeks to improve position over his opponent, instead attacking freely from positions widely considered as dangerous, sometimes baiting for submissions in order to create openings.
Championships and accomplishments
Mixed martial arts
Mixed martial arts record
|Professional record breakdown|
|47 matches||40 wins||6 losses|
|Win||40–6 (1)||Timothy Johnson||KO (punches)||Bellator 269||23 October 2021||1||1:46||Moscow, Russia|
|Win||39–6 (1)||Quinton Jackson||(T)KO (punches) ||Bellator 237||29 December 2019||1||2:44||Saitama, Saitama, Japan|
|Loss||38–6 (1)||Ryan Bader||TKO (punches)||Bellator 214||26 January 2019||1||0:35||Inglewood, California, United States||Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix Final. For the vacant Bellator Heavyweight World Championship.|
|Win||38–5 (1)||Chael Sonnen||TKO (punches)||Bellator 208||13 October 2018||1||4:46||Uniondale, New York, United States||Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix Semifinal.|
|Win||37–5 (1)||Frank Mir||KO (punches)||Bellator 198||28 April 2018||1||0:48||Rosemont, Illinois, United States||Bellator Heavyweight World Grand Prix Quarterfinal.|
|Loss||36–5 (1)||Matt Mitrione||TKO (punches)||Bellator NYC||24 June 2017||1||1:14||New York City, New York, United States|
|Win||36–4 (1)||Fábio Maldonado||Decision (majority)||Fight Nights Global 50: Fedor vs. Maldonado||17 June 2016||3||5:00||St. Petersburg, Russia||Result unofficially ruled a Draw by the World Mixed Martial Arts Association; however, that decision has not been recognized by the Russian MMA Union.|
|Win||35–4 (1)||Jaideep Singh||TKO (submission to punches)||Rizin World Grand Prix 2015 Finale: Iza||31 December 2015||1||3:02||Saitama, Saitama, Japan|
|Win||34–4 (1)||Pedro Rizzo||KO (punches)||M-1 Global: Fedor vs. Rizzo||21 June 2012||1||1:24||St. Petersburg, Leningrad Oblast, Russia|
|Win||33–4 (1)||Satoshi Ishii||KO (punches)||Fight For Japan: GDKO 2011||31 December 2011||1||2:29||Saitama, Saitama, Japan|
|Win||32–4 (1)||Jeff Monson||Decision (unanimous)||M-1 Global: Fedor vs. Monson||20 November 2011||3||5:00||Moscow, Moscow Oblast, Russia|
|Loss||31–4 (1)||Dan Henderson||TKO (punches)||Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson||30 July 2011||1||4:12||Hoffman Estates, Illinois, United States|
|Loss||31–3 (1)||Antônio Silva||TKO (doctor stoppage)||Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva||12 February 2011||2||5:00||East Rutherford, New Jersey, United States||Strikeforce 2011 Heavyweight Grand Prix Quarterfinal.|
|Loss||31–2 (1)||Fabrício Werdum||Submission (triangle armbar)||Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Werdum||26 June 2010||1||1:09||San Jose, California, United States|
|Win||31–1 (1)||Brett Rogers||TKO (punches)||Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Rogers||7 November 2009||2||1:48||Hoffman Estates, Illinois, United States||Defended WAMMA Heavyweight Championship.|
|Win||30–1 (1)||Andrei Arlovski||KO (punch)||Affliction: Day of Reckoning||24 January 2009||1||3:14||Anaheim, California, United States||Defended WAMMA Heavyweight Championship; Knockout of the Year (2009).|
|Win||29–1 (1)||Tim Sylvia||Submission (rear-naked choke)||Affliction: Banned||19 July 2008||1||0:36||Anaheim, California, United States||Won inaugural WAMMA Heavyweight Championship; Submission of the Year (2008).|
|Win||28–1 (1)||Choi Hong-man||Submission (armbar)||Yarennoka!||31 December 2007||1||1:54||Saitama, Saitama, Japan|
|Win||27–1 (1)||Matt Lindland||Submission (armbar)||BodogFIGHT: Clash of the Nations||14 April 2007||1||2:58||St. Petersburg, Leningrad Oblast, Russia|
|Win||26–1 (1)||Mark Hunt||Submission (kimura)||Pride Shockwave 2006||31 December 2006||1||8:16||Saitama, Saitama, Japan||Defended PRIDE Heavyweight Championship.|
|Win||25–1 (1)||Mark Coleman||Submission (armbar)||Pride 32||21 October 2006||2||1:17||Las Vegas, Nevada, United States|
|Win||24–1 (1)||Zuluzinho||TKO (submission to punches)||Pride Shockwave 2005||31 December 2005||1||0:26||Saitama, Saitama, Japan|
|Win||23–1 (1)||Mirko Cro Cop||Decision (unanimous)||Pride Final Conflict 2005||28 August 2005||3||5:00||Saitama, Saitama, Japan||Defended PRIDE Heavyweight Championship. Fight of the Year (2005). Fight of the Decade (2000s).|
|Win||22–1 (1)||Tsuyoshi Kohsaka||TKO (doctor stoppage)||Pride Bushido 6||3 April 2005||1||10:00||Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan|
|Win||21–1 (1)||Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira||Decision (unanimous)||Pride Shockwave 2004||31 December 2004||3||5:00||Saitama, Saitama, Japan||Defended PRIDE Heavyweight Championship. 2004 PRIDE Heavyweight Grand Prix Final.|
|NC||20–1 (1)||Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira||NC (accidental cut)||Pride Final Conflict 2004||15 August 2004||1||3:52||Saitama, Saitama, Japan||Retained PRIDE Heavyweight Championship. 2004 PRIDE Heavyweight Grand Prix Final.|
|Win||20–1||Naoya Ogawa||Submission (armbar)||1||0:54||2004 PRIDE Heavyweight Grand Prix Semifinal.|
|Win||19–1||Kevin Randleman||Submission (kimura)||Pride Critical Countdown 2004||20 June 2004||1||1:33||Saitama, Saitama, Japan||2004 PRIDE Heavyweight Grand Prix Quarterfinal.|
|Win||18–1||Mark Coleman||Submission (armbar)||Pride Total Elimination 2004||25 April 2004||1||2:11||Saitama, Saitama, Japan||2004 PRIDE Heavyweight Grand Prix First Round.|
|Win||17–1||Yuji Nagata||TKO (punches)||Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003||31 December 2003||1||1:02||Kobe, Hyogo, Japan|
|Win||16–1||Gary Goodridge||TKO (soccer kicks and punches)||Pride Total Elimination 2003||10 August 2003||1||1:09||Saitama, Saitama, Japan|
|Win||15–1||Kazuyuki Fujita||Submission (rear-naked choke)||Pride 26||8 June 2003||1||4:17||Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||14–1||Egidijus Valavicius||Submission (kimura)||Rings Lithuania: Bushido Rings 7: Adrenalinas||5 April 2003||2||1:11||Vilnius, Lithuania|
|Win||13–1||Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira||Decision (unanimous)||Pride 25||16 March 2003||3||5:00||Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan||Won PRIDE Heavyweight Championship.|
|Win||12–1||Heath Herring||TKO (doctor stoppage)||Pride 23||24 November 2002||1||10:00||Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||11–1||Semmy Schilt||Decision (unanimous)||Pride 21||23 June 2002||3||5:00||Saitama, Saitama, Japan|
|Win||10–1||Chris Haseman||TKO (punches)||Rings: World Title Series Grand Final||15 February 2002||1||2:50||Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan||RINGS 2001 Absolute Class Tournament Final.|
|Win||9–1||Lee Hasdell||Submission (kimura)||Rings: World Title Series 5||21 December 2001||1||4:10||Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan||RINGS 2001 Absolute Class Tournament Semifinal.|
|Win||8–1||Ryushi Yanagisawa||Decision (unanimous)||Rings: World Title Series 4||20 October 2001||3||5:00||Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan||RINGS 2001 Absolute Class Tournament Quarterfinal.|
|Win||7–1||Renato Sobral||Decision (unanimous)||Rings: 10th Anniversary||11 August 2001||2||5:00||Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan||RINGS 2001 Openweight Title Tournament Final.|
|Win||6–1||Kerry Schall||Submission (armbar)||Rings: World Title Series 1||20 April 2001||1||1:47||Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan||RINGS 2001 Openweight Title Tournament Semifinal.|
|Win||5–1||Mihail Apostolov||Submission (rear-naked choke)||Rings Russia: Russia vs. Bulgaria||6 April 2001||1||1:03||Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia|
|Loss||4–1||Tsuyoshi Kohsaka||TKO (doctor stoppage)||Rings: King of Kings 2000 Block B||22 December 2000||1||0:17||Osaka, Osaka, Japan||RINGS King of Kings 2000 Tournament 2nd Round.|
|Win||4–0||Ricardo Arona||Decision (unanimous)||3||5:00||RINGS King of Kings 2000 Tournament Opening Round.|
|Win||3–0||Hiroya Takada||KO (punches)||Rings: Battle Genesis Vol. 6||5 September 2000||1||0:12||Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan|
|Win||2–0||Levon Lagvilava||Submission (rear-naked choke)||Rings: Russia vs. Georgia||16 August 2000||1||7:24||Tula, Tula Oblast, Russia|
|Win||1–0||Martin Lazarov||Submission (guillotine choke)||Rings Russia: Russia vs. Bulgaria||21 May 2000||1||2:24||Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia|
|Since 2015||"The Eternal Faith" (Serbian: Вера вечна)|
|Jul. 2011 – Jun. 2012||"The Song of the Volga Boatmen" by Andrew Zheleznyakov|
|Jul. 2008 – Feb. 2011||"Oy, to ne vecher" by Andrey Zheleznyakov|
|Jun. 2002 – Dec. 2007||"Enae Volare (Mezzo)" by ERA|
|Sept. 2000 – Feb. 2002||"Breathe" by The Prodigy|
Towards the end of his mixed martial arts career, Emelianenko entered politics. He was elected to a five-year term as a deputy of the Belgorod Regional Duma on 10 October 2010 under the United Russia political party.
On 28 July 2012, Emelianenko replaced Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as a staff member of Russia's Council of Physical Fitness & Sports. The corresponding decree was signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In 2014, Emelianenko expressed support of the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation, and commented on the choice of the majority of the Crimean population to become a part of Russia in the 2014 Crimean status referendum: "Crimea has made the right choice, by joining Russia." He travelled to Crimea in order to promote MMA in the peninsula.
As for the Donbass war, Emelianenko accused Ukraine of waging a war against its own people, accused the Ukrainian government of fascism, and of "murdering Russians simply for being Russian."
In 1999, two years after his army service, he married Oksana, whom he had known since school, and their daughter Masha was born in the same year. They divorced in 2006. On 29 December 2007, his second daughter, Vasilisa, was born to his long-time girlfriend Marina. Emelianenko and Marina married in October 2009. In his spare time, he likes to read, listen to music, and draw. in July 2011 their second daughter Elizaveta was born. He is a practicing Orthodox Christian and a parishioner at the church of St. Nicholas in Stary Oskol. His entrance theme song, oy, to ne vecher, was performed at his request by archdeacon Andrey Zheleznyakov, soloist at the Episcopal Choir of the Nizhny Novgorod Diocese. In February 2014, Emelianenko remarried his first wife.
According to many people who have had close contact with Emelianenko, he is a humble man.
Emelianenko has stated his driving force for winning fights was: "Years ago we hardly had anything to eat. Now I earn more money and I see every opponent as a man that tries to put me back to that poorer period. That man has to be eliminated." and about his state of mind before a fight: "When I walk into a fight, I'm trying not to think about anything; collect myself and concentrate. And going into a fight, I don't feel any emotions, neither anger nor compassion. I don't emotionalize. I'm going into a fight with a clear mind... During the fight, my senses dim and basically I don't feel any pain."
In Fighters Only magazine, a sports psychologist was quoted as saying, "The best when it comes to the stare down is Fedor Emelianenko. Watch him: he does not make eye contact and his entire expression is extremely relaxed – you would think he is about to perform a ballet or something. But here is the crucial thing. When the referee tells them to head back to their corners, Fedor suddenly darts a short look directly at his opponent – or through his opponent, I should say. This kind of look is associated with antisocial behavioral disorders and psychopaths. They don't look at you, they look through you. It's emotionless; it goes deeper than skin level. You will get a lot of fighters who will catch that look and suddenly realize they don't want to be there. Wanderlei Silva has a stare-down that makes you think 'this is gonna hurt', but Fedor's makes you think 'I might die'."
Fedor trains with his youngest brother Ivan, who has competed in Combat Sambo.
When asked about his ethnicity, Fedor Emelianenko (who was born in Ukraine) said he was of Russian ethnicity, but that he "doesn't divide our countries." He said that Russia and Ukraine are "two different states," but that for him they were "still the same country."
|2009||Fedor: The Baddest Man on the Planet||Himself||Documentary Biography|
|2009||CNBC Originals: Ultimate Fighting: Fistful of Dollars||Himself||Archive footage|
|2010||The 5th Execution||Fedor|
|2011||New York Mixed Martial Arts||Himself||Cameo; Documentary|
|2006||무한도전 (Infinite Challenge)||Himself||Guest |
Season 04; Episode 18 & 19: "Wrestling Challenges Parts 1 & 2"
|2007||Human Weapon||Himself||Cameo |
Season 01; Episode 11: "Sambo"
|2008||Inside MMA||Himself||Guest interview with Bas Rutten|
|2008||놀라운 대회 스타킹 (Starking)||Himself||Guest|
|2009||Sports Science||Himself||Guest |
Season 02; Episode 01: "Choked and Slammed"
|2009||Inside MMA||Himself||Bazzie Award for KO Punch of the Year|
|2012||놀라운 대회 스타킹 (Starking)||Himself||Guest |
Sambo exhibition with Chan Sung Jung
|2012||クイズ☆タレント名鑑 (Talent Directory Quiz)||Himself||Contestant |
Ultimate Sumo Championship 2012
Season 03; Episode 04: "Russia"
|2013||ジャイアントキリング (Giant Killing)||Himself||Contestant |
Sportsmen Arm-Wrestling World Finals
|2014||The Voice Versus||Himself||Guest |
Season 05; Episode 04: "The Voice Versus: Fedor"
|2003||PrideGP Grand Prix 2003||Playable Character|
|2010||EA Sports MMA||Playable Character |
|Fedor Emelianenko, Glen Cordoza, Erich Krauss||Fedor: The Fighting System of the World's Undisputed King of MMA||2008||Victory Belt Publishing||9780977731541|
|Fedor Emelianenko, Vasily Shestakov, Svetlana Eregina||Sambo: The Science of Winning||2012||OLMA Media Group||9785373048637|
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Ivan is 18, and though he has a lot of talent, he does not have enough drive and ambition. However, he is not shooting for huge success either. At the very least, he is not ready for any sacrifices in order to reach certain results, unlike me, for example. And that's normal. For each his own. Sport, especially martial arts, is not something people should be forced to do.—Fedor Emelianenko
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I wasn't scared or hurt, I was just fighting according to the situation.—Fedor Emelianenko
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I was not [fighting] with a good distance so I wasn't able to take him down... he was smart, [and] did not want to work the ground with me.—Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira
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You've got Fedor [Emelianenko] coming over... in the heavyweight division.—Chuck Liddell
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[I have] no idea what these crazy Russians are going to do.—Dana White
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[The UFC is] very harsh in their terms... their proposal has all kinds of clauses [and] fines that do not suit us... Fedor must represent (sic) combat sambo in Russia.—Vadim Finkelchtein
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I think that Fedor, right now, the word is he wants to fight in this Sambo event, but I won't let him fight in it if he's with us. I think he's going to wait until he fights in this thing in October, November, and we'll probably come to a deal with him at the end of this year or the beginning of next year... What we'd want to do is, we'd want to know who is the best heavyweight in the world. So if we sign Fedor, Fedor comes right in and fights Randy Couture for the title.—Dana White
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Фёдор: ...А теперь у меня новая семья. С Мариной мы знакомы достаточно давно, и вот, как уже многие знают, 29 декабря у нас родилась дочь. (Fedor: ... And now I have a new family. Marina, we know quite a long time, and now, as many know, December 29, we have a daughter.)
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Fedor Emelianenko.|
- Fedor Emelianenko at Bellator
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