Russian heavyweight Aleksander Emelianenko announced his retirement from MMA competition on Wednesday.

The 31-year-old Pride and M-1 veteran released an open letter to his fans, citing a chronic injury and a lack of time for his family as contributing factors in his decision.

“Unfortunately, I am no longer able to perform in the ring because of health problems caused by old injuries,” the statement reads. “I want to thank my fans for their support, for sticking with me despite everything [that was said] about me.”

The younger brother of one of the greatest fighters of all time, Fedor Emelianenko, Aleksander rose to fame fighting in Japan. During his stint with Pride FC from 2003 to 2006, the heavy-handed slugger accumulated a 6-2 professional record with notable wins over UFC veteran Assuerio Silva, Olympic judo gold medalist Pawel Nastula and former Pride number one contender Sergei Kharitonov.

Despite enjoying significant success in the Land of the Rising Sun and Russia, the heavily-tattooed three-time combat sambo world champion never managed to step out of the larger-than-life shadow of his older brother. His sporting situation worsened when he allegedly tested positive for hepatitis ahead of his fight with Paul Buentello in July 2008. Emelianenko has refuted the reports, though he never applied for another license to fight stateside nor was tested by an independent laboratory afterwards. He fought exclusively in Russia for the final five years of his career.

Emelianenko’s retirement follows only six months after his older brother stepped away from the sport after back-to-back first-round knockouts of Olympic judo gold medalist Satoshi Ishii and former three-time UFC heavyweight title contender Pedro Rizzo. With the Emelianenko brothers now enjoying their retirements, the Nogueira brothers -- Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Antonio Rogerio Nogueira -- are now uncontested as MMA’s longest-serving and most successful active brother pair.

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