Fedor Upset, Ready for Replacement


MOSCOW -- The RIA News building is located on Moscow's Garden Ring, a short walk from Gorky Park (of the Scorpions’ “Winds of Change” fame). Its conference hall was almost standing-room only Thursday as Vadim Finkelshtein, head of M-1 Global and Fedor Emelianenko's long-time manager and friend, somberly filled in the assembled Russian media on the latest news from the U.S.

Flanked by Igor Vovchanchyn, Mikhail Zayats (2008 Combat Sambo World Champion who is facing Lucio Linhares at the Affliction “Trilogy” event) and of course Fedor, Finkelshtein attempted to explain the CSAC ruling and the Affliction/M-1 Global options in Josh Barnett's absence.

It's fair to say that the atmosphere didn't have much further to fall, the disappointment so thick you could cut it with an elbow.

The news that Barnett, Fedor’s scheduled opponent, tested positive for a banned substance and would not be licensed to fight had circulated in the Russian state and commercial media Wednesday. Instead of final questions prior to Fedor’s departure for the U.S., the previously planned news conference turned into people wishing Fedor well, whomever he ends up facing.

The most noteworthy of these wishes was from a Moscow sports magazine that had brought along a 150-kg strongman competition athlete who, in the glare of flashbulbs, quickly rolled up, into a tube, a standard kitchen frying pan and handed it to the amused Fedor as a symbol of Russian strength and a somewhat unusual good-luck charm.

While the opponent for Fedor has not yet been confirmed, there appears to be two frontrunners. As previously reported, Vitor Belfort has in principle agreed to the fight, pending final negotiations. There is also, however, the possibility that Fedor could face an undefeated Brett Rogers, the man who most recently (and much more quickly than Fedor) knocked out Andrei Arlovski.

“We personally entertain the idea of having Brett Rogers step in since he knocked Andrei Arlovski out,” Finkelshtein told M-1Global.com. “But if there is any problem with Rogers, then it’s pretty safe to say it’s going to be Belfort. However, we are well aware of the fact that fans don’t consider Vitor Belfort to be a suitable replacement, according to a recent Sherdog poll.”

Rogers is signed with Strikeforce. Concerning the heavyweight, Finkelshtein told Sherdog.com after the news conference that he is in “urgent negotiations with Strikeforce at the moment, and if we can agree, and if they [Strikeforce] release him, that's a fight we'd like to see.”

After waiting for the multiple television and live radio interviews to be concluded, I sat down with Fedor and discussed the situation for some time. He was tanned, as always during Russia's sunbaked summer, and sported a healing cut on the bridge of his nose that he had received a week ago while sparring with his brother Aleksander.

“It's not broken or anything like that, just a scratch really," Fedor said.

He was tired of answering questions. This notwithstanding -- Fedor is the consummate professional when it comes to dealing with the press -- and even though he was very diplomatic in his answers, he came across as deeply disappointed.

“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,” he said, pausing for a few seconds, “what can you do? I am disappointed, though I'm glad that after all I don't have to fight a friend.”

This was followed by genuine laughter, which is not something that I've seen a lot of from the camp in the last day. Fedor was optimistic about speaking to Barnett.

"We haven't had a chance to speak to him yet, though I really want to,” he said. “And once we do speak, most probably we will not discuss what has happened in the last day."

He said this with a concern that seemed directed at the well being of Barnett, almost out of worry for him, rather than out of any animosity, though nobody would have faulted Fedor for being angry with Barnett.

“For this fight, there was nothing external that was getting in the way of training, except for small but uncomfortable injuries,” Fedor said. “I had boils come up one after another, things like that. The nose and etc. … 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.”

Fedor was diplomatic when talking about whom he prefers to face out of the two possibilities of Rogers or Belfort.

"I'm not in a situation where I can pick who I am fighting. I will fight whoever they put in front of me," he said.

I thought that was too diplomatic; I wanted to know who was the more interesting opponent for him.

“You know, I'm being really honest here,” he said. “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."

I also had to ask about the weight difference between him and Belfort, who recently has been fighting at 185 pounds.

"To be honest, in terms of his speed at that weight, I honestly don't know if being heavier is an advantage with a fighter who is as fast as him at his current weight,” Fedor said. “I have always found it harder to fight the lighter, faster guys, rather than the really big, plodding heavy and super heavyweights. And Belfort has always stood out in terms of his speed."

Long after the news conference was over, Fedor was still giving interviews and taking photos with fans. He flies to the U.S. on Friday to acclimate to local conditions.

As disappointed as he really is at the change of circumstances for the Aug. 1 Affliction and M-1 Global event, he is taking things more or less in stride. He also alluded to God, making an unusual reference to the Russian Orthodox religion he has recently strengthened his connection with.

"It's God's will,” he said, “and because of that, I know what has happened is for the best.”

view original article >>
Report here if this news is invalid.

Related News

  • 25 days ago
  • 24 views

Perhaps the most colossal megafight that never came to fruition in mixed martial arts was the mythical matchup of Brock Lesnar vs. Fedor Emelianenko. According to Lesnar’s longtime friend and on-scre read news >>

  • 13 days ago
  • 0 views

Kell Brook, a somewhat sizeable underdog coming in, negated the aggressive style of Shaun Porter and won a majority decision on Saturday night. read news >>

  • 13 days ago
  • 9 views

Kell Brook, a somewhat sizeable underdog coming in, negated the aggressive style of Shaun Porter and won a majority decision on Saturday night. read news >>

  • 18 hours ago
  • 17 views

Check out the wide-ranging Twitter reactions to the news that Renan Barao was out of UFC 177 and Joe Soto was in against T.J. Dillashaw.Filed under: Featured, News, UFC read news >>

  • 27 days ago
  • 23 views

The worldwide leader for mixed martial arts and UFC news, MMA News, UFC Rumors, MMA Rankings, Interviews, Videos, UFC Results, and UFC Blog read news >>

  • 27 days ago
  • 49 views

In a recent interview with Bloody Elbow, Tim Kennedy discussed the issues he has with Belfort's licensure, why the good will between Michael Bisping and himself never lasted and if fighting at 170 is read news >>

  • 27 days ago
  • 27 views

In a bizzare twist of MMA regulatory news, Cage Warriors has moved a recent event targeted for Sweden to Jordan, after the Swedish MMA Federation refused to approve most of the bouts on their card. I read news >>

  • 28 days ago
  • 874 views

Here we go... When Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) heavyweight titleholder Cain Velasquez defeated Brock Lesnar to win the 265-pound strap at the UFC 121 pay-per-view (PPV) way back in 2010, the read news >>

  • 28 days ago
  • 28 views

Ramsey Nijem’s April win proved a turning point in his career, and it had nothing to do with what happened in the cage. For the first time, the Palestinian American fully embraced his heritage, and i read news >>

Jump to: