No discussion about who is the greatest MMA fighter in history can take place without mentioning Fedor Emelianenko. Let’s take a look at how he became the most feared man in the sport.
Fedor Vladimirovich Emelianenko was born on September 28th in the small city of Rubizhne in the former Ukrainian SSR. At the age of two, he moved to the notoriously tough city of Stary Oskol, in western Russia.
Emelianenko lived in Stary Oskol until the age of 19, when he joined the Russian Army. During his time in the army, Fedor began training in Combat Sambo, a Russian fighting system that combines all of the most effective techniques from a variety of martial arts, and one of the best transitional sports into MMA. He finished his military term in 1997, and immediately joined the Russian Top Team gym to begin training for his MMA career.
Fedor’s Early Fights
After three years of training, Fedor made his mixed martial arts debut with the RINGS promotion in May of 2000. His skill was apparent immediately. He dominated his first four fights, including a win over the extremely tough Ricardo Arona.
In his fifth fight, Emelianenko experienced the first loss of his MMA career. Just 17 seconds into his fight with Tsuyoshi Kohsaka, Fedor was hit with an accidental elbow off a wild punch from Kohsaka. Elbows were illegal in RINGS at the time, but the ringside doctors stopped the fight and made Russian gambling news by awarding the Japanese fighter the victory via TKO.
Fedor fought six more times inside RINGS, with his most high-profile win coming over Brazilian legend Renato Sobral.
Road to the Heavyweight Championship
In June of 2002, Emelianenko made his Pride FC debut against 6’ 11” Dutch kickboxer Semmy Schilt. He dominated the fight and was immediately thrown to the wolves. One win over Heath Herring secured Fedor’s shot at the Pride Heavyweight Championship against Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Despite many online sportsbooks in Russia, including Bet365 picking Nogueira as the betting favorite, Fedor dominated the entirety of the fight to earn a unanimous decision. With this win, Fedor earned the nickname “The Last Emperor,” and established himself as one of the top fighters on the planet.
Emelianenko went on to win his next seven fights, six of which came in the first round. A rematch was set with Nogueria less than a year after their first bout, but an accidental headbutt four minutes into the first round forced the doctor to stop the fight. Four months later they faced off for the third time, and although Nogueria had some success, Fedor once again proved too much.
Number One Pound-For-Pound in the World
After defending his title against Nogueira, Fedor was considered by most to be the greatest MMA fighter on the planet. He was 21-1, and had the type of well rounded game that could give any fighters trouble.
There was only one fighter that MMA fans, and betting sites like Bet365, debated could be better than “The Last Emporer.” That man was Croatian striker Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, who at the same time was 16-2 and had competed at the highest level of professional kickboxing, was perhaps the only man more feared than Fedor.
The fight between the two finally took place in August of 2005. It took place inside the Saitama Super Arena in front of over 30,000 spectators, including a number of highly successful Japanese poker players. Most analysts predicted Fedor would try to take the fight to the ground, but he surprised the world by choosing to stand and strike with the kickboxing champion. It was a back-and-forth brawl, but in the end it was Fedor who had his hand raised.
Fedor has had one of the most storied careers in the sport, and continues to fight to this day. His next fight is stated to take place in December of 2016, so make sure to check out Bet365 for the betting line as soon as his opponent is announced! Stay tuned for part 2 of How Fedor Emelianenko Became the Greatest Fighter in MMA History.