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Fedor Emelianenko: MMA popularity in Russia to remain strong after Khabib’s retirement

Fedor Emelianenko, who celebrated his 44th birthday on September 28, boasts an impressive career record of 39 wins
Fedor Emelyanenko Valery Sharufulin/TASS
Fedor Emelyanenko
© Valery Sharufulin/TASS

MOSCOW, November 18. /TASS/. The popularity of the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) sport in Russia will remain strong despite the recent retirement of Russia’s Khabib Nurmagomedov, world’s legendary MMA heavyweight fighter Fedor Emelianenko told TASS on Wednesday.

"MMA has already gained its popularity and established itself as a particular sport with professional leagues," Russia’s Emelianenko said in an interview with TASS. "Our [Russian] guys are holding fights in the top promotion events."

Emelianenko, who celebrated his 44th birthday on September 28, boasts an impressive career record of 39 wins (15 by KO/TKO; 15 by submission; nine by decision) and six defeats in his 19-year-long MMA career and is dubbed in the world of MMA as ‘The Last Emperor.’

"I don’t think that the sport of MMA will lose its popularity [in Russia]," the world-renowned MMA fighter stated in response to a question about the future of the MMA popularity in Russia after Nurmagomedov’s decision to end his sports career.

On October 24, Reigning UFC Lightweight Champion Khabib Nurmagomedov defeated Justin Gaethje of the United States in Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s capital city, during the UFC-254 tournament, defending his champion’s belt for the third time in a row. The Russian fighter booked the victory over his US opponent with a choke in Round 2.

Shortly after the victorious bout in Abu Dhabi over Gaethje, Nurmagomedov stunned his numerous fans worldwide by saying that he would retire because he wants to spend more time with his family. Khabib’s father and Coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov died in July amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

On July 3, Russia’s prominent mixed martial arts (MMA), sambo and wrestling coach Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov passed away at the age of 57. Abdulmanap Nurmagomedov was hospitalized earlier in the year after he had been diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.

UFC Reigning Champ Nurmagomedov

The 32-year-old Russian fighter, nicknamed ‘The Eagle,’ is holding an unblemished record of 29 wins in all of his mixed martial arts fights (8 by KOs, 11 by submission and 10 by decision).

Khabib Nurmagomedov, hailing from Russia’s North Caucasus Region of Dagestan, was the first Russian to win the UFC champion title during the fight against his US opponent Al Iaquinta in the spring of 2018.

On April 8, 2018, Nurmagomedov defeated Al Iaquinta in a five-round fight for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight belt in New York.

The UFC (the Ultimate Fighting Championship) is the largest MMA (mixed martial arts) promotion event around the globe featuring world’s top-rank fighters. Many Russian fighters are participating in the UFC competitions.