Many in the fight game — including Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) president, Dana White — felt Fedor Emelianenko should’ve retired years ago. He did, actually. “The Last Emperor” called it a day in June 2012 following a knockout win over Pedro Rizzo.
His retirement lasted about 2.5 years because the competitive fire got the best of him, returning to fight for RIZIN and then Fight Night before inking a deal with Bellator MMA in 2017. And though his start with the promotion wasn’t the best, losing to Matt Mitrione in 74 seconds. Fedor went on to secure a 4-1 record with the promotion prior to Bellator 290, with his loss coming against Ryan Bader.
So, despite many people saying his best days were behind him, Fedor was still winning. But even after winning two in a row against Timothy Johnson and Quinton Jackson, “The Last Emperor” decided that win, lose, or draw in his rematch against Bader he would walk away.
And after suffering another first-round knockout loss at the hands of Bader (highlights), Emelianeko is more at peace than ever with his decision. And this time it’s going to be the one that sticks.
“I feel great (about retiring). My age first of all, but all my injuries I’ve had in the past started to remind me of it. My body doesn’t feel the same as it used to be,” he said in his usual calm demeanor during the post-fight presser.
Many questioned what another loss to Bader would do for Emelianenko’s legacy, but others felt that regardless of the outcome his place in the history books is secure and no loss at the tail-end of his storied career would alter it.
As far as what he would most like to be remembered by when the old generation of hardcore fans are telling tales of his conquests to the younger crowd who may not be too familiar with him, Fedor only wants one thing.
“I want to be remembered as a modest competitor. I take everything as it happens. If I win, lose, it doesn’t really matter. That’s how it has to happen. You saw today, the whole arena was cheering me up (after I lost). I get my popularity and my fan base based on my actions inside the cage, not because I was doing trash talk and talking bad about my opponents.”
In a sport full of bitter rivalries, Fedor never rubbed anyone the wrong way or badmouthed his opponents in the leadup to a fight. It’s a rare thing, and a commendable one for the Russian big man. The only rivalries he had were competitive in nature, and even then he always showed his opponents the utmost respect, and vice versa.
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