(“Mr. Fedor thinks you are a very amusing little man. He would enjoy it very much to see you dance for him … Dance! Dance, I say!” PicProps: Fedor’s Website)
Even by his own lofty standards for peculiarity, Fedor Emelianenko had a pretty enigmatic week in America leading up to his second appearance inside the Strikeforce cage. When he wasn’t no-showing scheduled appointments or turning interviews into literal games of telephone by funneling his quotes through a comically long series of interpreters and middlemen, Fedor plodded through his obligations to hype tonight’s fight against Fabricio Werdum with the same kind of indecipherable stoicism he usually shows his doomed opponents.
Amid rumors that his retirement was imminent and that he was planning a life in politics at home in mother Russia (both of which he’s denied), the whole circus served only to remind us how little we really know about Fedor. Aside from a few half-hour Showtime specials, a handful of feature stories — the best known of which was actually written by M-1 executive Evgeni Kogan, so it has to be considered no more substantive than an M-1 press release – and his own stilted and translated post-fight interviews, there is shockingly little primary source material on Emelianenko.
What we’re told, over and over again, is this: Because of his old-school Soviet sensibilities and deeply religious nature, Fedor has no need for fame or for money and apparently has no desire to be known or understood by the fans who’ve elevated him to near God-like status in hardcore MMA circles. He’s a simple, conservative-minded man who chooses to live in relative seclusion, train with a select group of close friends and views nearly everything else as bothersome, needless distraction. Yeah, that last part made him sound a little bit more like Brock Lesnar than any of you are comfortable with admitting, huh?
But as much as he remains a mystery outside the cage, he’s given us ample evidence of what’s capable of inside it. In preparation for tonight’s bout with Werdum, we give you our choices for the 10 fights that have, in different ways, defined his career thus far …