You know the saying, though. Looks can be deceiving.
The fact is, Fedor Emelianenko is more than just powerful; the word strong hardly seems to cover things. Renato Babalu, a former competitor, seemed to say it best in an interview at Graciemag.com.
"Look, I've fought many people from around the world, so I've seen many strong fighters. But like him, never." Then he went on to add, "he's got takedown skills, but sometimes just throws you down, using tremendous strength that he just doesn't look like he's got."
So what happens when you combine strength like this with elite fighting skills? In Fedor Emelianenko's case, you get the Heavyweight Champion of Pride Fighting Championships (PRIDE). In fact, many believe that he may be the greatest mixed martial artist in the history of the sport, a terrifying brew of heart, technique, and astounding strength. But Fedor Emelianenko wasn't always so powerful. To know more is to read on.
In 1999 Fedor married his wife, Oksana, and they have a daughter, Masha. Currently, they live together in Stary Oskol, Russia.
Fedor first started training in Sambo and Judo as a youth under Vasiliy Ivanovich Gavrilov and later under his current coach, Vladimir Mihailovich Voronov. Interestingly, during an interview with the Japanese magazine, Number, Voronov indicated that in the champion's early years (at the age of 10), Fedor was not necessarily a gifted fighter, nor very strong. He was, however, a "very persevering child."
Later in life, Fedor spent time in the Russian Army (1995-97). Though he certainly worked out hard and bettered himself athletically during that stint, he did not continue his training in Sambo and Judo. Still, in 1997 he received the official certification of "Master of Sports" in Sambo and Judo. Further, Fedor won a bronze medal in the 1998 Russian Judo Championship.
Then came 2000, the year he stormed onto the MMA stage. Why. . . because he needed the money.
Many would love to know Fedor Emelianenko's training regimen so they could copy it. After all, he is widely considered the best mixed martial arts heavyweight in the world today and possibly in the history of MMA. Well, here's as much of it as he's giving out.
As a child, Fedor trained in Sambo and Judo, two similar styles that focus on takedowns and, especially in the case of Sambo, submissions (Sambo is particularly known for its leg locks). Even after he started in MMA, Fedor managed to compete successfully in Sambo, becoming the Russian Combat Sambo Champion (2002), World Combat Sambo Champion (Heavyweight Division- 2002, 2005), and World Combat Sambo Champion (Absolute- 2002).
By 2000, however, Fedor was extremely well- versed in these techniques and because of this began to learn striking under coach Alexander Vasilievich Michkov.
Fedor will sometimes train three times per day. Further, it's widely known that although he used to weight train quite a bit, he hardly ever uses weights anymore. Instead, he focuses on strength exercises that utilize his own body including pull- ups, push- ups on parallel bars, and crunches.
According to an official website interview, Fedor runs 7.5- 9.3 miles per day. Beyond that his workouts consist of grappling, kickboxing, and boxing; in other words, the things he's asked to do in the ring. He often chooses to train in Kislovodsk, Russia. The reason- high altitude.
In 2005, Fedor started focusing on his kickboxing skills in a large way. The probable reason for this was his upcoming match with Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic. So who did he decide to work with? Cro Cop's old nemesis from kickboxing, Ernesto Hoost. In addition, he has added a Muay Thai coach (Ruslan Nagnibida).
In terms of fighting style, Fedor has one all his own. He's got great takedowns and ground control skills. Further, he's the most devastating fighter the MMA landscape has ever seen when in someone else's guard, literally raining down punches with tremendous force on his opponents while in a position where most would be somewhat cautious.
However, one reason that Fedor seems able to do this is that he has shown the ability, time and time again, to literally power out of submission attempts that other fighters would be tapping from (see the Nogueira fights for examples).
Last, Fedor's striking skills have improved tremendously. He hits very hard, has knockout power in both hands, and is a particularly devastating striker inside (as he showed in the fight against Cro Cop). Beyond that, he's a master game planner (his team also deserves some credit for this). All fighters walk into bouts with a plan, but unlike most, Fedor follows through. He simply doesn't wilt under pressure and seems calm no matter what the circumstances.
However, this loss was somewhat marred by controversy as Kosaka caused the cut with an illegal strike (an elbow which was not permitted in the event).
Regardless, Fedor defeated elite fighters such as Ricardo Arona (decision) and Renato Sobral (decision) during his time fighting in Rings. In addition, in 2001 he became the Rings King of Kings Heavyweight Tournament Champion and World Absolute Class Tournament Champion.
Then, on 6/23/02, Fedor Emelianenko stepped into PRIDE for the first time against Semmy Schilt, winning by decision in a fight where he showed off his takedown and ground control skills.
After another win against Heath Herring (TKO), Fedor stepped into the ring against the PRIDE Heavyweight Champion, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira on 3/16/03, a man that was at that time considered by most to be the best MMA fighter in the world. In short, Nogueira was dominated by Fedor in the match.
The Russian took Nogueira down at will and pounded on him while sitting in the Brazilian's guard (what many would've considered to be a very dangerous move at the time). However, Nogueira's guard submissions, fearsome to most, seemed to not even phase Fedor. He simply powered out of submission attempt after submission as if they weren't even there on his way to the PRIDE Heavyweight Championship belt.
Since then Fedor has defeated fighters such as Kazuyuki Fujita (submission), Gary Goodridge (TKO), Mark Coleman (submission), Kevin Randleman (submission), Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (decision, for the second time), Tsuyoshi Kosaka (TKO, avenging his only loss), and Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic (decision).
Against Cro Cop, Fedor truly showed his ability to both game plan and follow through on such measures as he succeeded in outstriking the striker, so to speak, by crowding him the entire fight until he was able to take him down.
Fedor Emelianenko continues to be the PRIDE Heavyweight Champion. However, he hasn't fought since 12/31/05 due to a hand injury that required surgery (the bones needed to be rebroken and set again). He is slated to fight for the first time since his surgery on 10/21/06 when PRIDE comes to America against Mark Coleman.
Finally, the United States is going to get a dose of Fedor Emelianenko. Afterwards, the American MMA landscape may never be the same.
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