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Russia’s MMA legend Emelianenko says may face US Mitrione for rematch

Emelianenko and Mitrione previously met in the octagon on June 24, 2017, when the US fighter defeated his Russian opponent with the TKO in the opening round
Fedor Emelianenko Valery Sharifulin/TASS
Fedor Emelianenko
© Valery Sharifulin/TASS

MOSCOW, July 16. /TASS/. World-renowned MMA (mixed martial arts) heavyweight fighter Fedor Emelianenko of Russia told TASS on Friday he viewed US fighter Matt Mitrione as one of his possible opponents on October 23.

On June 25, the US-based Bellator mixed martial arts promotion announced that the Russian fighter was scheduled to hold his next bout in Moscow on October 23 as part of a Bellator tournament.

"Yes, he is one of the main fighters viewed as my opponent for that bout [on October 23]," the legendary Russian fighter said in an interview with TASS.

Emelianenko and Mitrione previously met in the octagon on June 24, 2017, when the US fighter defeated his Russian opponent with the TKO in the opening round.

"I’ve certainly watched [the video of] this fight more than once," Emelianenko said. "As the saying goes, nothing happens in God's world by accident, and one must draw conclusions".

"However, if replaying that situation I can say that I was feeling him all the time and that feeling kept telling me that it could come anytime, and this is what eventually happened," he said. "But back then I did not see that punch coming, and it seems to me that he simply brushed me away".

In August 2020, Emelianenko, nicknamed ‘The Last Emperor,’ told TASS that he was not thinking about quitting sports and was looking for more fights. The Russian fighter said at that time that he viewed the Russian capital of Moscow as the likely venue for his final bout.

He also hinted that he may possibly wrap up his career after the fight in the Russian capital this fall.

"It will all certainly depend on my physical condition," the fighter said. "I believe that I will be pondering on my exit after each of the upcoming fights. I realize that I’m feeling well, and it looks like that I can be still stubborn, and can bite back in my bouts with young fighters. However, judging by my physical condition I clearly see that it is not even a half of what it used to be".

"I cannot work out anymore with extreme weights, which I used to before for my training sessions," Emelianenko said adding "…it is obvious that I am not that Fedor Emelianenko at the age of 25, 30 or 35".

Emelianenko, 44, currently boasts an official MMA record of 39 wins (15 by KO/TKO; 15 by submission and nine by decision) and six defeats (five by KO/TKO; one by submission).

Possible exhibition fight

Asked by a TASS correspondent whether Emelianenko ever considered entering an exhibition boxing fight, the Russian fighter replied: "I don’t quite well understand what the so-called exhibition fight means and perhaps fighters don’t use their full strength when exchanging punches."

"However, it can be interesting [holding a boxing bout], because I previously sparred with Denis Lebedev, among other boxers and I have been practicing boxing since 2000," he said.

Russian boxer Denis Lebedev is a former IBF/WBA/WBC cruiserweight champion.

"It would be indeed interesting to hold such a boxing match, but not against Internet bloggers or pop singers, not against those, who are outside the world of sports," Emelianenko continued. "Roy Jones Jr. is a legend of the boxing world of boxing and it would be definitely interesting to meet him in the ring."

In September 2015, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to grant Russian citizenship to Roy Jones Jr. The professional career of the US-born boxer began in 1989 and he has won world titles in four weight classes to his credit. At one point, he was considered the world’s number one pound-for-pound top boxer. He is also a unique sporting figure in being the only fighter to win titles in the middleweight, super middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight divisions.

In his professional boxing career Roy Jones Jr. scored 66 wins, including 47 knockouts, and lost nine fights. In 1988, he won a silver medal at the Seoul Olympics.

"I pray that he don’t knock me out…, showing what I am really capable of in the sport of boxing," Emelianenko continued commenting on his possible exhibition fight with Roy Jones Jr., who is 52 years old. "I need to watch out for him because he has a distinguished record of fights."

"He will always be the legendary Roy Jones Jr. although he is not capable anymore of showing his insane speed," Emelianenko added.

‘The Last Emperor’ Fedor Emelianenko

During his retirement period, Emelianenko held the post of the Russian MMA Union’s president and also served from November 2012 as an advisor to then-Russian Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko.

After his comeback in 2015, Emelianenko has had seven fights so far, defeating India’s Jaideep Singh, then clinching another victory over Brazil’s Fabio Maldonado. In June 2017 he lost by TKO to US fighter Matt Mitrione. In April 2018, he defeated US heavyweight Frank Mir with a KO win in the first round, and in October 2018, he enjoyed a TKO triumph over American fighter Chael Sonnen. In January 2019, he lost by TKO (punches) to Ryan ‘Darth’ Bader of the United States and then knocked out US fighter Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson in December 2019.

Born on September 28, 1976, in the town of Rubezhnoye in Ukraine’s southeast, Emelianenko fought his way to the top earning numerous titles throughout his career.

He is the 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 medalist (1998, 1999).

In 2009, the esteemed American sports magazine, Sports Illustrated, named him "the top MMA fighter of the decade".