Before the return of the greatest heavyweight champion in the history of Mixed Martial Arts, Spike takes an in-depth look at his life and explores the motivations and mystique of the man who is already legend, the one and only Fedor Emelianenko.
Original story: http://www.bloodyelbow.com/2015/12/7/9862588/fedor-emelianenko-conditioning-russia-coach-training-hard-mma-news
Renowned Russian coach Vladimir Voronov has high expectations for the long-awaited return of his legendary pupil Fedor Emelianenko.
After witnessing Fedor take part in several training camps in the Netherlands, Moscow, and his hometown of Stary Oskol, Voronov is convinced that the former Pride heavyweight champion made the correct decision to return to professional fighting.
“He clearly has had a long break but Fedor now has perfect conditioning,” Voronov said after
M-1 Challenge 63 in St. Petersburg. “He is training hard like he is young again. His hard work and experience will make for a very interesting fight.”
While Fedor’s opponent is yet to be publicly announced, the Russian heavyweight is already aware of his upcoming foe and has begun the final stages of his preparation. His coach, however, is not concerned with the person standing opposite Fedor on Dec. 31.
“It doesn’t matter who his opponent is. If Fedor is ready, he can beat anyone.”
Here is a video of a Sambo fight between Fedor and his coach:
Fedor Emelianenko revealed that he is already training for a specific opponent for his New Year’s Eve return at Rizin FF.
It seems that MMA fans are the only people unaware of Fedor Emelianenko’s next opponent.
The Russian heavyweight legend was a guest commentator at the recent Super MMA Cup of Russia event, where he revealed that he is already in the final portion of his training camp and is preparing for a very specific opponent.
However, while the former Pride Heavyweight champ has been informed of his upcoming opponent on New Year’s Eve, the official announcement will not be made for another week.
Fedor was in Amsterdam for a portion of his training camp and recently returned to Moscow for the final few weeks leading up to his first fight in four years. His sparring partners consisted of fellow Russians like Kirill Sidelnikov, Anatoly Tokov, Vadim German, Victor German and Alexander Kosarev.
Rizin will hold the first of two shows on Dec. 29, which will consist of the five fights in the first round of the light-heavyweight Grand Prix tournament. They will include the reserve fight, Kazushi Sakuraba vs Shinya Aoki, Yuki Motoya vs Nam Jin Jo, AJ Matthews vs Anatoly Tokov, and Tsuyoshi Kosaka vs James Thompson.
The Dec. 31 show will consist of the semi-finals and finals of the tournament, Fedor Emelianenko long awaited return, Kaido Hooverson, Gabi Garcia vs Lei’D Tapa, RENA vs Jleana Valentino.
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Sakakibara has revealed the name for his MMA promotion, but not Fedor Emelianenko’s opponent. Here are details on the new promotion called Rizin FF.
During a press conference in Japan, former PRIDE boss Nobuyuki Sakakibara revealed details about his NYE plans, which involves a 3-day event for a promotion he calls Rizin Fighting Federation.
While the name of the organization has been revealed, Fedor Emelianenko’s opponent wasn’t. Earlier reports indicate that the heavyweight great will face the 1-0 Jaideep Singh, but the promotion has yet to make an official announcement.
The Last Emperor was in attendance during the presser, and will be headlining the event on December 31st. The 30th will be a Fan Expo of sorts, while the 29th will be another fight card announced to be headlined by Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Shinya Aoki.
Decorated grappling champ Gabi Garcia and kickboxing star Rena Kubota will both be making their MMA debuts as well, against yet to be announced opponents. You can watch the full press conference above.
Related: The Emperor Returns shirts now on sale!
Here are other tidbits announced during the press conference:
– Scott Coker and Spike TV’s Jon Slusser were also in attendance, and confirmed that Bellator fighters will also be competing during the 3-day event.
– The NYE event will be called Rizin Fighting World Grand Prix 2015, and apart from Bellator fighters, they will also include competitors from other partner promotions such as King of Kings, Bushido, KSW, Jungle Fight, and BAMMA. The line up is also expected to feature Russian fighters, along with some talent from the Japanese amateur wrestling scene.
– It will be held in a ring, and mostly PRIDE rules are going to be used, including the 10-minute opening round, with knees, soccer kicks, and stomps allowed on the ground. The inclusion of elbows, which weren’t legal before in PRIDE, are still going to be discussed.
– Women’s fights will be treated differently and held on three 5-minute rounds.
– They expect to have up to 30 fights with MMA, kickboxing, and possibly others under various rule sets.
– The event will air in Spike TV, with Bellator commentators handling the duties on the US-side of the broadcast. As for the Japanese broadcast, they revealed that they’re currently negotiating with Fuji TV, which was a partner of PRIDE before their demise, but there’s still no confirmation whether it will be shown live.
Given his status as one of the most famous sportsmen in Russia, Fedor Emelianenko has enjoyed a fair amount of pageantry and adoration from fans and celebrities alike. He has even fought in front of his country’s president, Vladimir Putin, on numerous occasions and formed a friendship with the long-reigning leader.
While Fedor initially retired three years ago, Putin – sambo practitioner and 5th degree Judo black belt — remained in touch with the legend and even called him to wish him luck once he announced his return to MMA.
“Yes, we talked,” Fedor revealed to rsport.ru. “He said he would be very worried (with a smile). And he wished me luck.”
Putin has been pictured next to Emelianenko and Jean-Claude Van Damme during the Affliction days and was later ringside for one of Fedor’s last fights against Jeff Monson. Fedor has also been invited numerous times to attend various sports events as Putin’s guest of honor.
Fedor returns to professional competition on Dec. 31 at the Saitama Super Arena for upstart promotion Rizin Fighting Federation. His opponent is yet to be determined.
Several months ago, a new Japanese promotion used a live Bellator MMA show as their outlet to announce their ambitious plans for their upstart organization. Headed by former Pride FC boss Nobuyuki Sakakibara, Rizin Fighting Federation boasted their first big signing: returning legend Fedor Emelianenko.
Since then, the mysterious promotion has demanded attention, even if only in the form of curiosity. They held a press conference on October 8 and announced that they would team up with several other notable promotions to create the “future of fighting.”
One of those organizations is Polish standout promotion Konfrontacja Sztuk Walki(KSW).
According to co-founder Martin Lewandowski, the negotiation process began a year ago and progressed gradually after a secretive first meeting.
“I was approached by the Japanese team – Mr Sakakibara – about a year ago,” Lewandowski told BloodyElbow.com in London. “They gave me a call and said that they wanted to come and see my show and they wanted to talk about cooperation. They were top secret – very secretive – they wouldn’t say why they were coming. I wanted to know if it was business or leisure. Were they in Krakow for a holiday already or were they coming just for me and my promotion?”
“In the end, I found out that they were coming with a business offer. It has been a year since we spoke for the first time. They came back in the middle of the year to Poland for business, since the first one was more like a general overview. They talked about their idea and what they planned to do.”
Following their first meeting, things became clearer for KSW. Rizin was keen to collaborate with a multitude of MMA promotions to create Grand Prix tournament structure that will determine the best fighters in the world.
“Right now, we are waiting for the contract. The whole idea is that they want to do a sort of championship between the organizations and different promotions. They wanted to approach some fighters but they want to do that through the promoter. That means promoters are dealing with promoters. They [Rizin] don’t go into the details with each fighter. They deal with the Japanese fighters and all that.
“They are planning six big shows and want KSW fighters on every show. The first one will be held at the end of this year. There will be a tournament divided into two shows but it won’t just be the tournaments during the two shows. There are single fights but the major attraction would be the tournament.”
While KSW is happy to cooperate with Rizin’s tournament structure, Lewandowski does not plan on sending the promotion’s champions to enter the tournament. Although he hopes to reap the benefits of expanding into a new market, he does not believe he needs to send over his champions to ensure that newfound attention.
“What I can tell you for sure is that our champions will not be fighting in those tournaments,” Lewandowski explained. “I told them for that it is useless for me. It is not the big money I would send a fighter for and, from my point of view, this is more about attracting Japanese audience to the KSW market and to really build something huge that can unite many promotions. I think it is a good option for the MMA world and the fighters understand such an idea. I support it.”
While Rizin has managed to attract media attention to their press conference and proposed plans for a Grand Prix event, they remain shrouded in mystery, which makes it difficult for outlets to gauge their seriousness. However, while their PR division could be improved, Lewandowski believes that Sakakibara’s involvement emphasizes their seriousness with this endeavor.
“[Sakakibara] is such a big name that I don’t think that he is going to be involved in something small. It will be a Pride FC style event. That’s why they go to the Saitama [Super Arena]. I was in Japan during the New Year’s Eve period before. They don’t celebrate like we do – fireworks or getting drunk or something – they believe that the best way to celebrate the coming new year is to go for a nice event. In their culture, the 31st of December is a great day to go out. So this is probably what [Rizin] will count on.
“I think it is going to be big. They have been planning this probably for years, especially since it has been a while since they started approaching promoters. I think three months ago they told me that the event was going to be named Samurai Grand Prix. So, I think it still changes. The idea is still not finalized.”
Given that Rizin’s idea to collaborate with multiple international promotions is an ambitious one, Lewandowski made it clear that there would be difficult to homogenize the rule set for all those involved.
“It is really hard. I tried to work with Bellator on different business levels, with World Series of Fighting, and with the UFC. But the UFC cut me off and said that they don’t want to work with me. Even with M-1 Global, it is hard to complete the business. For example, with Jungle Fights in Brazil – I have nothing against them – -but I think their show is on a completely different level [than KSW], so if their promoter is ok with sending their champion to the Japanese promotion because it raises his reputation and image. For me, not that I’m saying they are worse, but it doesn’t make business sense.
“So it is hard to make the same rules for everyone. I think that is what they are struggling with right now. It is hard to put everything in one box.”
Once KSW’s collaboration with Rizin became public knowledge on Oct. 8, rumours began to swirl that Polish strongman Mariusz Pudzianowski could potentially be the opponent selected for Fedor Emelianenko’s comeback fight. Lewandowski denied the rumours for the NYE fight but seemed open to the potential bout somewhere down the line.
“I could consider it,” said Lewandowski. “There is nothing on the table because we were talking to Mr. Sakakibara about the tournament only. Pudzianowski wasn’t really an option. He is not such a big name in Japan. He is a big name in the USA but in Japan they could probably sell him as the World’s Strongest Man since they know how to do that. But I don’t think that this is an option for this year. I know Rizin has a different opponent for Fedor for NYE so maybe in the future.
“Fedor is a very different fighter than Mariusz. Fedor is very well known in Japan and that is why they hired him. But if you see most of the single fight, they are more likely to be Japanese fighters. The tournament is going to be international and the single fights are more based on the Japanese market; not 100 percent of them, but most.”
rmer PRIDE head Nobuyuki Sakakibara returns to the MMA world in December as the president of Rizin Fighting Federation, and detailed some of his plans for the future in his recent trip to Brazil.
The Japanese promoter, who visited Sao Paulo to watch Jungle Fight 82 on Saturday, discussed several topics with the local media, including the return of former PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko.
According to Sakakibara, the promotion will officially announce Emelianenko’s opponents in the coming days.
“We have many names, but we will only decide that in 10 days, at most,” Sakakibara told the media Saturday. “It’s been hard to choose because we have to live up to the expectation around Fedor’s debut in the event, so the opponent needs to have a good name to make it an attractive fight.”
Sakakibara revealed he also reached out to other PRIDE veterans, but couldn’t get a deal done yet.
“We had other names in mine like Wanderlei Silva and Mirko Cro Cop, fighters that did well in PRIDE, but Fedor was the only one who had no contracts stopping him,” he said. “The Japanese audience would be really excited with the return of Wanderlei Silva as they are with Fedor, but Wanderlei still has a contract with the UFC. If he gets free of this contract, we will speak with him, absolutely. I would be the first to call him.
“I want for Rizin every fighter that shined in PRIDE. We reached out to some of them, like (Ricardo) Arona, but he said he has a knee injury and has no timetable for his return.”
Royce Gracie, Ken Shamrock and other legends of the sport could also return to action in the future, according to the Japanese promoter.
“We think about doing a master class soon,” Sakakibara said. “It would be a category over 45 years, to give a chance to those who want to fight. You see Dan Henderson fighting in a high level at 45. I met Royce Gracie in the United States and he said he’s ready to fight. Ken Shamrock is also interested. We can do Wallid (Ismail) against Royce Gracie, for an example.”
Jungle Fight president Wallid Ismail, who tapped Gracie in a jiu-jitsu match in 1998 and hasn’t fought in mixed martial arts in 13 years, quickly responded to the idea. “Write the check,” he said with a laugh.
Rizin FF was created to put on fights that fans want to see, Sakakibara explains, and that’s why they won’t worry about weight divisions that much. Shinya Aoki vs. Kazushi Sakuraba, booked for Dec. 29 in Japan, is one example.
“My personal opinion is that athletes today don’t fight because of a few kilos,” he said. “Because of two or three kilos, we can’t book a fight that could be very interesting. For Japanese, who have judo and sumo, athletes that are used to weight and absolute, it’s kind of weird for a fighter to worry about two or three kilos.
“We want to change this mentality. Fans are missing many great fights, like (Cris) Cyborg and Ronda (Rousey), because of a little difference in weight. We can say examples here like Fedor and Hong Man Choi, ‘Minotauro’ and (Bob) Sapp, that the smaller guy doesn’t always lose. And people still get impressed watching those fights today. We won’t force anyone to fight, of course, but if the athlete wants to fight despite a few kilos, we will promote the fight. Of course, always respecting the safety of the fighters.”
Rizin FF will promote two events in December, and plans to hold four shows in 2016. According to Sakakibara, fighters who compete in the event will be drug tested by an American company.
“We will do four events per years, at most,” he said. “In 2016, we plan on doing two events in August and two more at the end of the year. The intention is to motivate the athlete to prepare to fight at Rizin, to create an excitement, like the World Cup of soccer, which happens every four years and people get excited to watch it.
“I respect the UFC, Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White, but if they are big today it’s because they worked hard,” he continued, “but I want to do something different, something that benefits both sides and makes MMA stronger.”
The promotion has yet to unveil the ring where the fights will take place in December, but the events will use different rings this year.
“On the 29th, it’s going to be an event to remember PRIDE, exactly like that, the same ring. On the 31st, it’s going to be completely different, a different structure. It’s like a rite of passage,” Sakakibara said. “It’s going to be a ring, but not a normal ring. It’s going to be something never seen before. We’re building it. It’s going to be a square, but everyone will be shocked. The show won’t lack anything compared to the old PRIDE.”
Rizin FF has signed TV deals in Japan and United States, inking contracts with Fuji TV and Spike TV, respectively, and is currently under negotiations with Brazilian networks, Sakakibara said. They also plan on holding an event in Brazil in the future, but a trip to the United States wouldn’t be that easy since 10-minute rounds aren’t legal in the country.
“In a five-minute round, a fighter can stall for three minutes and attack on the last couple minutes. It’s hard to do that in a 10-minute round,” Sakakibara said. “I’ve talked to jiu-jitsu fighters, and 10 minutes is better to take the fight to the ground, do transitions and submit. An athlete trying to avoid getting submitted would have to spend more energy, so the fight would be more interesting and dynamic.”
Jaideep Singh has already signed a contract to fight Fedor Emelianenko on Dec. 31 for Rizin FF, however, that hasn’t stopped the upstart promotion from searching for a new opponent for “The Last Emperor.”
In fact, according to two sources with knowledge of the situation, Singh’s chances to fight Emelianenko have now been dropped to approximately 5-10 percent.
Since MMAFighting.com reported that Rizin was targeting Singh vs. Emelianenko, Singh was booked to fight for the vacant DEEP megaton title on three days’ notice versus Carlos Toyota earlier this month. Singh won the fight, which was set up in hopes of making him looking stronger before the Emelianenko fight, via second-round TKO, however, two issues alarmed Rizin officials following the fight, according to sources.
First, Rizin officials weren’t blown away by Singh’s performance, which is somewhat understandable considering his lone MMA fight happened more than two years ago. Even more troubling for them, though, was that they felt Singh looked out of shape and would be a tough sell for the Japanese public.
So they have now begun scouring the free-agent market to see if there are better options for Emelianenko. If they can’t find a better replacement, Rizin will go back to Singh, the 28-year-old Indian-Japanese former K-1 World Grand Prix 2009 in Seoul champion, who they initially thought had a strong enough resume and background to attract a strong Japanese audience on local Fuji TV. That’s the key here: while the likes of Soa Palelei, Shawn Jordan and even Randy Couture have been briefly discussed, Rizin is looking for an opponent with a strong following in Japan more so than anywhere else, including the United States.
Rizin officials were hoping to already announce Emelianenko’s opponent, but they are now willing to take their time to find the best fighter out there.
In other Rizin news, former Total Nonstop Action wrestler Lei’d Tapa is being considered as an opponent for multiple-time jiu-jitsu world champion Gabrielle Garcia, according to sources. Tapa recently started training at American Top Team in Florida, and UFC fighter Amanda Nunes mentioned on Twitter that she will be fighting Garcia.
Also, Kanako Murata, the 2011 and 2012 junior world wrestling champion, is in talks to make her MMA debut for Rizin against an unknown opponent. Invicta may supply her opponent.