The M-1 Challenge MMA tournament hits the Russian capital on Sunday night, and there is a very familiar name topping the bill – Fedor Emelianenko’s younger brother Aleksandr, who spoke with RT about his next bout, and a few other things.
Fedor retired, but the Emelianenko name fights on! Though the arguably greatest mixed martial artist of all time left the sport in June, his younger brother Aleksandr is still in the game. Both earned fame during the heyday of the PRIDE fighting championships in Japan in the early 2000s – the world's biggest MMA competition at the time.
“I'm not disappointed with Fedor's decision to leave at all. Of course, fans would love him to keep on fighting, because he's the best,” Aleksandr says.
“Everybody enjoyed watching him fight, seeing his unique style, proving his outstanding skills over and over again,” he said. “That's why his retirement was just slightly disappointing. But he's not a machine. He realized it was time to leave and devote himself to other things. And I'm glad for him.”
Fedor's legacy is near untouchable. The 'Last Emperor' was undefeated for a decade, while Aleksandr's career has been all about ups and downs. He earned his record of 20 wins through sheer aggression and no end of class, and handled five defeats without fear or reproach.
One of Aleksandr's most devastating losses came in November of last year, when he was knocked out by his fellow countryman Magomed Malikov just 20 seconds into the bout. Still, he recovered with aplomb and went on to claim three wins in a row.
On Sunday, the 31-year-old is set to face Latvia's Konstantin Glukhov in the main event of the M-1 Challenge tournament in Moscow.
“He will be there to give his all and win. I respect him as a fighter. He is tall, he is good at both punching and kicking, although I've also seen him take his opponents to the ground. And I must be ready for that, too. However, he's first and foremost a very good striker,” Aleksandr explained.
Glukhov also won't make the mistake of underestimating his opponent: “I consider Aleksandr Emelyanenko a very strong and experienced opponent. I'm preparing myself for a very tough clash. I wish him all the best. I want to be involved in a spectacular fight. I hope the crowd will enjoy it,” he says.
There's more than just crowd appreciation at stake for Aleksandr Emelianenko. A win could mean his road to redemption is almost complete; a loss could send him right back to square one.