Fedor Addresses Fans/Media
As "Trilogy" Looms, Fedor Emelianenko Releases First Post-Barnett Scandal Statements
You’re Fedor Emelianenko. People have been singing your praises since the first time you ever stepped into a ring. You’ve lost exactly one fight in your entire career, having faced some of the greatest fighters of all time, and even that loss didn’t come without considerable controversy. You’ve ruled the Heavyweight division of Mixed Martial Arts for the past several years, and most recently, you’ve completely obliterated two former UFC Heavyweight Champions.
Then your friend tests positive for steroids and suddenly you’re out of a fight. How do you react?
If you’re Fedor Emelianenko, you do what you do best: keep it professional.
Fedor addressed fans and the media alike at a recent press conference in Russia. Topics included his feelings on Barnett and Barnett’s rumored replacements, which as of now seem to be either middleweight Vitor Belfort or Brett “The Grim” Rogers.
Here are some highlights from “The Last Emperor”.
On Josh Barnett: “Josh is a great, strong fighter. I've always followed his fights and liked him as a competitor and as a person. I was very prepared, totally ready for a good, hard fight. But what can you do? I am disappointed, though I'm glad that after all I don't have to fight a friend. We haven't had a chance to speak to him yet, though I really want to. And once we do speak, most probably we will not discuss what has happened in the last day."
His preparation for “Trilogy”: “For this fight, there was nothing external that was getting in the way of training, except for small but uncomfortable injuries. I had boils come up one after another, things like that.”
Aside from Vitor Belfort, the undefeated heavy-handed Brett “The Grim” Rogers, who recently knocked out Andrei Arlovski faster than even Fedor himself, has also had his name thrown into the mix in regards to possible replacements. Fedor and M-1 Global seem to be entertaining the idea, and here’s what Fedor had to say on that.
“In regard to Rogers, I think he is a very serious opponent. I think he is very physically strong, and possesses significant knockout power. And I think that taking this into account, Andrei [Arlovski] was too quick to decide to stand and trade with him, and missed a punch. And also I think, and this is my personal opinion, that he was too quick to train and fight again. No matter how good a sportsman he is, he sometimes misses head punches and that means a concussion yet again, and I think he took the fight too early. He should have had more time off to recuperate.”
In regards to which “The Last Emperor” would personally rather face, he remained diplomatic and assured the media and fans that he would gladly fight whoever is put in front of him. When pressed for a firm statement, Fedor had this to say.
“You know, I'm being really honest here. I am equally interested in a fight with either Belfort or Rogers. I've never fought with either one. I used to watch Belfort fight, even before I started competing. So there is a history there for me with him. It is very interesting to me; he was a fighter who faced and beat a lot of the greatest fighters in MMA at the time. Rogers is a fighter who is tearing through the heavyweight division with 10 fights and 10 wins. And, I have to add, he beat Arlovski."
Although Fedor seemed clearly disappointed with how everything turned out, in the end he remained optimistic, closing out with this.
"It's God's will. And because of that, I know what has happened is for the best.”
While Fedor has always came off highly professional and eloquent in all his interviews, it’s hard not to note how much he shares in the disappointment of the fans and media regarding his fight with Barnett being pulled. Although both men maintain a steady friendship, both have said time and time again leading up to this fight that this is a match that needs to happen: worldwide rankings consistently give Fedor the #1 spot in the Heavyweight division, with Barnett coming in at #2. As I’ve said before, Belfort has been on a great comeback streak and really shows promise as a middleweight star, so I think it’s unfortunate and even a bit dangerous if he agrees to the fight and forces himself to bounce up two weight classes with such little time remaining until August 1, the scheduled date of “Trilogy”.
Brett “The Grim” Rogers would be an interesting match, but as I’ve also said before, I don’t think it’s possible to train for Fedor in such short a time.
Whatever happens, few can doubt that Fedor has remained professional about this and adamant that he will fight at “Trilogy”. Fedor is one of Affliction’s biggest stars, to the point where some hardcore fans claim that the only reason Affliction sells tickets and Pay-Per-Views at all is because of Fedor’s involvement, so Fedor withdrawing from the event would have been a killing blow to the promotion. “Trilogy” still has much left to salvage, but at least fans will once more get to see if Fedor can defend his Heavyweight crown.
As always, stay tuned to MMAFigs.com for the latest on Affliction “Trilogy”.