He missed out on ZUFFA-era UFC, so some fans may not know the name Fedor Emelianenko.
But the Russian is fondly remembered by many fans as the greatest heavyweight in MMA history.
Fans of the old school remember the man they call “The Last Emperor’s” dominance: an eight-year unbeaten streak, heavyweight titles with PRIDE and others, and wins over the likes of Andrei Arlovski, Mirko “Cro Cop” and Rodrigo Nogueira.
So when Fedor announced his return to the sport earlier this year, there was plenty of interest.
But, since he hasn’t been seen in an MMA ring or cage since June of 2012, there’s a bit of concern too. What kind of shape is he in? How motivated is he?
In a recent interview with FightNights.ru, Bellator heavyweight champion Vitaly Minakov spoke about Fedor’s condition and offered his opinion on his comeback.
Minakov, who enjoyed a brief training camp with Fedor, describes the old legend as “showing a lot of interesting things” earlier this month — particularly in the realm of ground fighting.
“This is exactly what I needed for the future,” Minakov said, as translated by Karim Zidan for Bloody Elbow. “Once Fedor shared these moments it immediately began to turn out differently.”
Minakov implies “The Last Emperor” hasn’t missed a step.
“Fedor is in good shape,” he says. “Technically he is still very good and has not lost anything in time. He still has very quick hands, hits very hard, and has good functional status. We are in touch with Fedor, and will interact constantly – it will be a mutually beneficial cooperation.”