A day after it was reported that Aleksander Emelianenko had been fired by M-1 Global due to repeated violations of his contract, the Russian heavyweight has announced his retirement from MMA at the age of 31. Emelianenko released the following statement on his Facebook page (translation via MMA Lives Here):
I want to thank you for your support, for having supported me in spite of all that they say about me. Unfortunately, I will not be able to perform in the ring because of health problems caused by old injuries. Of course, as an athlete it’s a hard time. I am grateful to my fans and partners for their support, for believing in me, and I am grateful to my detractors. Your attitude always made me move forward and achieve new things. I realise now I was hit by a barrage of accusations and criticisms, not directly related to my job. Unfortunately, there will always be people who want you in bad situations to score points. I don’t want to comment on anything, explain or justify. Each of us in life does good and does bad – that is our nature. I think I did a lot for the sport and I hope my example has drawn a lot of young people to the gym. Otherwise, God will judge us all, in time. Now I want to give the publicity away. I want to take care of my health, my family, which I lost, and my daughter, who I love very much. Perhaps I will see you again. Thank you! Be well and believe in God!
Tall, mulleted, and covered in Russian gangster tattoos, Aleksander Emelianenko in his prime was just as intimidating a presence as his older brother Fedor. “The Grim Reaper” kicked off his MMA career in October 2003 with a decision win over Assuerio Silva at PRIDE Bushido 1, and went on to compile a 6-2 record within the PRIDE promotion, where Fedor ruled as heavyweight champion. Though losses to top heavyweights Mirko Cro Cop and Josh Barnett stymied his momentum, Aleks was responsible for some of the most memorable knockouts in PRIDE history. Witness: