Fedor Emelianenko returned to the mixed martial arts cage against Fabio Maldonado today (Fri., June 17, 2016) in the main event of EFN 50 from St. Petersburg, Russia, and things didn’t exactly go as planned for fans of ‘The Last Emperor.’

After the legendary former Pride champion bullrushed the iron-chinned Maldonado with his trademark flurries in opening moments of the first round, it was UFC veteran Maldonado who gained the advantage with a perfect counter right hand to send Fedor reeling. Endless shots landed, and it appeared the boutĀ could have been called off at any point.

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But somehow Emelianenko survived after almost falling down due to exhaustion in the first, and he not only survived, but persevered to batter Maldonado with a barrage of pinpoint strikes to bloody the Brazilian in a fight-changing second round.

Maldonado again landed big in the third and final frame, but Fedor also kept the pressure high with endless combinations, stinging low kicks, and damaging knees on a battered but game Maldonado. In the end, the score was a bit controversial, with many believing the bout should have ended in a 28-28 draw as one judge actually scored it.

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But the other two judges scored it 29-28 for Fedor, giving him a closely contested majority decision in his native Russia. It may not have been the statement he was looking to make in order to finally sign with the UFC, but it was a thrilling fight and a true display of Emelianenko’s heart of a champion nonetheless.

Watch the full fight video highlights of the insane bout courtesy of ESPN here: