Fedor Emelianenko is a man of faith. So much so that he believes God’s Will will choose his path in life and career.
In his eyes, God has brought him to a match-up with former Pride middleweight and welterweight champion Dan Henderson at Saturday’s Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Henderson in Chicago. And despite losing two fights in a row for the first time in his storied career, Fedor still finds the importance of competing and winning fights this late in the game.
Against Henderson, “The Last Emperor” will face a fighter that’s competed in MMA for longer than he has and built a fighting resume that is impressive it its own right, spanning over 14 years with numerous titles and accolades.
A win over someone like that would mean a great deal to the Russian heavyweight.
“Of course, it would be a very important victory,” Fedor said recently. “Dan Henderson has been a fighter for a very long time and been a champion in many different organizations. And for me, it’s very important. It would mean a lot to me.”
At one time, Fedor was considered the pound-for-pound top fighter in the world. Names like “The Baddest Man on the Planet” were synonymous with Fedor and his mystique was something to get lost in thought about. Fans used to make Terminator jokes about how he was a cybernetic organism sent from the future to protect John Connor, but stumbled upon MMA and made a living off of it.
Well, John Connor doesn’t exist in real life and Fedor is not a machine; he’s a real person with a family, friends, and yes, he does display emotion.
Those emotions have Emelianenko remembering his glory days as champion, destroying every heavyweight in Pride and walking the Earth with an indestructible aura, leaving opponents with an intoxicating sense of fear.
This is a time the Strikeforce heavyweight looks to relive and finds importance in, as well.
“Of course, it’s important,” he said about regaining a heavyweight crown. “It’s definitely something that I’d like to achieve again. For me, what’s most important is to be a master in the sport and to be on top of my game.”
Fedor’s last two performances haven’t been things to brag about. First, against Fabricio Werdum in June of 2010, he found himself trapped in a triangle choke that ended up being the finishing touch to Werdum’s biggest win of the jiu-jitsu fighter’s career. In his following fight against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva in the opening round of the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix, Fedor again found himself on the losing end, this time with his back on the ground and Silva fully mounting him en route to a doctor’s stoppage after the second round.
According to the Russian heavyweight, losses like these have had no effect on his confidence going into what could be his third loss in a row.
Fedor again turns to his faith in God.
“Absolutely not. It hasn’t affected my confidence at all,” he said. “If God has given us a certain path for my life, then I have to go down that path and feel confident about it.”
And that path, according to many MMA experts, may soon come to an end when it comes to fighting. 10 years without a loss suddenly came to a screeching halt with the losses to Werdum and Silva.
Many have pointed the finger at Fedor’s refusal to advance with the times and evolve with the game of MMA. When asked questions about if he’s done anything different for his fight with Henderson, Emelianenko advised that he’s done nothing to change his approach to this fight and all preparation has been the same as fights prior.
Regardless of recent fight outcomes and the results of Saturday’s bout against Dan Henderson, Fedor Emelianenko seems to want to continue the journey he feels God has laid out for him. With a healthy frame, Fedor appears want to continue fighting for some time.
“I’d like to continue to fight,” he said. “I feel great, my health is great and I’m in good physical shape.”
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Erik Fontanez is a staff writer for MMAWeekly.com.
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