The return of Fedor Emelianenko to the world of mixed martial arts has been on the lips of many hardcore fans for the past few months. ‘The Last Emperor’ kept his cards close to his chest, until he finally revealed at the recent Bellator Dynamite show that he’d be aligning himself with BMMA and former Pride owner Nobuyuki Sakakibara.
The announcement was met with mixed feelings, as many had hoped to see Fedor fight under the Zuffa banner. The last years before his first retirement were filled with speculation about dealings with the UFC, all of which turned sour when the question of cross promotion and money was raise. It’s really no surprise that the former Pride heavyweight boss went East when the news of a $2.5 million payday was revealed, although Sakakibara is now disputing that figure:
“Information on the $ 2.5 million fee – this is absolutely not true,” Sakikabara told R-Sport (courtesy of Bloody Elbow). “I’m sure that during various negotiations with US organizations, Fedor was offered a much larger amount than our options. The return of Fedor in Japan has completely nothing to do with money, and it is a fact.”
“One of the main reasons [for Fedor’s return] is the development of the future of MMA,” said Sakakibara. “Fedor was a legendary champion of PRIDE, he did not suffer a single defeat and is an integral part of the history of mixed martial arts and becoming part of a unique organization.”
A lot of people were talking about money being the main motivator for Emelianenko’s return, but by the sounds of it the UFC may have offered Fedor a lot more than Sakakibara could muster up. So why didn’t ‘The Last Emperor’ take the big cheque at this twilight stage in his fighting timeline?
What we saw during Fedor’s hiatus was a lot of influence in the younger generation of MMA fighters, especially in Russia. He spent some time in politics in his home nation too, proving there are many layers to the man once known as ‘The Russian Experiment’.
The mystery of Fedor is bigger than ever, and the fan favorite recently hinted that we’d here of his next opponent by October 8, so stay tuned!