The Man Behind the Legend
Fedor Vladimirovich Emelianenko was born in 1976 in Rubizhne, Luhansk, Ukraine. His mother, Olga, was a teacher and his father, Vladimir Alexandrovich was a welder. Fedor finished his high school education in 1991 and graduated from a professional trade school with honors in 1994. Soon after graduating from the trade school, Fedor served in the Russian Army. He was in the army from 1995 to 1997.
Fedor has a sister named Marina and two brothers who also participate in MMA, Alexander and Ivan.
Early Japanese Promotion
In 97, Fedor was certified as a "Master of Sports" in sambo and judo. He then joined the Russian national top team. He won the bronze metal in the 1998 Judo Championship. In 2000, he began competing in professional MMA to make money. And from that moment on, he has risen to the top as one of the cream of the crop of some of the best fighters in MMA.
When he joined the Russian Top Team, Fedor fought for the Japanese promotion RINGS. It was here that he suffered his first loss to Japanese fighter Tsuyoshi Kohsaka. The loss was controversial, as the fight was doctor stopped at 17 seconds due to a cut on Emelianenko's forehead. Footage of the fight shows that the cut that stopped the fight was caused by an illegal elbow striking a previous cut and reopening it.
However, this loss didn't stop Fedor and he went on to the finals of an elimination competition. After defeating well-known Brazilian fighter Renato Sobral he was set to fight Bobby Hoffman the same night for the championship. This fight did not go on, however, because Hoffman sustained an injury to his shoulder and was unable to compete. Emelianenko was awarded the win by default and given the RINGS Heavyweight Class Championship.
PRIDE FC is where Emelianenko has really made a name for himself. It was a Japanese promotion very similar to the UFC as far as rules go. However, instead of fighting in a cage, the fighters fight in a boxing ring.
Fedor won many fights against huge name fighters, cementing his status as a beast in the ring. Some of these wins include defeating Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira for the Pride Heavyweight Championship, title defense against Kazuyuki Fujita, a win against Gary "Big Daddy" Goodridge, Yuji Nagata, Kevin Randleman, and Olympic Silver medal winner Naoya Ogawa.
Emelianenko reigned during his time with PRIDE FC, and if you can get hold of some of the footage of these fights, I highly suggest you watch them. They are amazing and Fedor is so comfortable in the ring he looks like he was born in one.
Fedor also fought for other promotions through the years. He had bouts with BoDogFight, M-1 Global, a special event by the name of Yarennoka, DREAM, Affliction, and Strikeforce.
There were rumors for years that Emelianenko was coming to UFC, but it never happened as a deal could never be agreed upon between Emelianenko and UFC.
Because he never ended up with UFC, you're going to see all sorts of trash talk around about how Fedor was too afraid to face the fighters of UFC, and that was why he never signed with them. Personally, I don't believe those theories. I think it was simply about money. There's no secret that UFC doesn't pay their fighters as much as all other professional athletes while Dana White makes millions of dollars per fight just for himself. My theory is they simply wouldn't give Fedor what he expected to be paid as a top tier, well sought after athlete.
At first, when reports were going around that Fedor was going to retire, he would deny the reports and say that he was sticking around. However, after a victory over Pedro Rizzo by knockout, he confirmed that he was indeed going to hang up his gloves.
But retiring for Fedor Emelianenko means popping in to fight from time to time. So keep your eyes open, because he's still around and surprising people with his easy wins, even at his age.