Next weekend, "The Last Emperor" Fedor Emelianenko (32-4) will look to prove he still knows how to win fights, squaring off against the fellow MMA veteran Jeff Monson in the main event of M-1 Global's "Battle of Legends" in Moscow, Russia. The event will mark Emelianenko's first bout in Russia since the BodogFights encounter with the now-retired Matt Lindland.
The “black stripe” of Fedor Emelianenko's career started back in June of 2010 with what was then a shocking defeat to Fabricio Werdum in just 60 seconds. The negative streak continued with a painful-to-watch TKO loss to the "Bigfoot" Antonio Silva, and the latest disappointment just a few months ago against Dan "Hendo" Henderson.
Against Jeff Monson, Fedor and his team hope for a different outcome.
The main part of Emelianenko's training camp for Jeff Monson took place in Special Sports Gym in Amstelveen, Netherlands (20 minutes from Amsterdam). I had an exciting opportunity to interview Fedor Emelianenko in Netherlands (3 hours by train from my home, up north in Groningen), ahead of what could easily be the most important fight of his illustrious MMA career. Visibly reenergized Emelianenko shared about his plans for the fight with Jeff Monson, and what he's been concentrating on in this training camp
"I don't like to talk about other fighter's weaknesses. That's something we'll be able to find out during the fight," he said. "Jeff Monson is physically strong, and has a very good ground game, with both wrestling and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He's a game opponent."
It looks like working on physical strength plays a big part in Emelianenko's preparations for Jeff Monson. "The Last Emperor" has absolutely fantastic training conditions in Special Sports, a gym that by size and the quality of its facilities reminds Denver, Colorado's, Muscle Pharm Training Center, where Rampage Jackson prepared for his unsuccessful shot at Jon Jones' UFC Light Heavyweight title.
The "Jeff Monson version" of Fedor Emelianenko is much bigger than the one who fought against Dan Henderson, Antonio Silva and Fabricio Werdum. Fedor's striking coach in the Netherlands, Peter Teijsse, revealed that “The Last Emperor” currently walks around 108kg, and could get heavier to around 110kg on a fight day with "The Snowman".
However, Fedor refused to admit he intentionally worked on improving his muscle mass for the fight with Monson.
“I don’t know if intentionally or not, it rather happened naturally. I did a little bit of barbell workout over here, which I enjoy a lot. So I just went up in muscle mass. I always quickly gain muscle, it’s never been a problem for me."
The fight with Jeff Monson will be Fedor’s third in 2011. Emelianenko didn’t fight three times a year since 2005, when he defending his PRIDE Heavyweight title in fight for the ages with Mirko Cro Cop.
“I prefer a tight fighting schedule,” admitted Fedor. “I’m a fighter, and as a fighter I think it’s very important to be active, to stay in shape. But unfortunately, there were certain difficulties with the promotions I used to fight for."
M-1 Global: Battle of Legends is without a doubt the biggest Mixed Martial Arts event to ever take place in Russia. Emelianenko has a huge fan base in his homeland, while according to recent rumors, M-1 Global sold 22,000 tickets for this Saturday’s event at the Olympic Sports Complex in Moscow.
“I really hope my fight would have a positive effect on the MMA scene in Russia,” said Fedor, before sharing his advice for the young generation of Russian MMA fighters. “Still, I think there are some fighters who lay too much on their opponents, without delivering fans the exciting fight they deserve,” Fedor continued, adding the following “In my opinion, MMA fighter should be a thinking fighter. That’s the most important aspect - to think. And of course it’s very important to be well rounded. It’s great to see that a lot of young fighters keep moving in the right direction.”
Finally, Fedor Emelianenko spoke about his plans for 2012, perhaps not as a fighter, but as a family man.
“My main goal is to finish building my house, and to move there with my family. I want to be more with my family, my wife and my daughters.”
M-1 Global: Battle of Legends will take place this weekend, on Sunday, November 20th at 7:30 AM/ET - 4:30 AM/PT. The event will be aired on both cable and satellite pay-per-view via iN Demand, DIRECTV, DISH Network and Avail-TVN, for a suggested retail price of $29.95.