STARY OSKOL, RUSSIA (Wednesday, January 7). There are just 17 days until Fedor Emelianenko defends his WAMMA heavyweight title against former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski during Affliction M-1″Day of Reckoning” on January 24 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California and live on Pay-Per-View.
Despite having recorded victories in the past over the likes for former PRIDE and interim UFC heavyweight champion Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, former UFC heavyweight champion Tim Sylvia, and Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Arlovski could pose Fedor’s toughest test to date.
Fedor has recently had verbal salvos fired at him by both Arlovski and his boxing trainer Freddie Roach. Despite being secluded for his training camp in his Russian home city of Stary Oskol — a small town in which cell phone connectivity is spotty at best and Internet access is almost non-existent — Emelianenko heard the comments and elected to respond through an exclusive interview he had with FiveOuncesOfPain.com. In addition to those responses, Fedor shares other thoughts on his career and training. Here, then, are his responses.
Question: You train in your home town of Stary Oskol, which is very isolated from the rest of the world. With so many world class camps that now have some many top coaches and training partners, why do you choose to keep things simple?
Fedor: MY TRAINING IS NOT SIMPLE. I BELIEVE I TRAIN HARDER THAN ANYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD. AND THE STRENGTH AND POWER I OBTAIN CAN ONLY BE HERE IN RUSSIA. I FEED OFF MY SURROUNDINGS AND I DO NOT BELIEVE I WOULD BE AS PREPARED IF I TRAINED SOMEWHERE ELSE. I LIKE TO HAVE EVERYTHING I LOVE AROUND ME WHEN I TRAIN.
Question: During a recent press conference to promote “Day of Reckoning,” Andrei Arlovski questioned the sincerity of a statement you made last month regarding your loss at the Combat Sambo Championships. His exact quote was the following:
“After his loss in the Sambo tournament, I think he’s messed up a little bit. He says it’s not important, but c’mon, let’s be serious. He was unbeatable, like, five years, six years in Sambo, and he’s not beatable in MMA. When you lose something, of course it’s important. For me, it’s really hard to believe that he doesn’t care about it. Of course he cares. Now I don’t think he is 100 percent sure of himself.”
Fedor: MAYBE ANDREI IS TRYING TO CONVINCE HIMSELF THAT I HAVE BEEN WEAKENED IN SOME WAY. BUT IT IS NO MATTER. WE ARE NOT FIGHTING SAMBO WITH ANDREI. THE ONLY 100% I AM SURE ABOUT IS THAT I WILL BE 100% READY TO FIGHT MMA AGAINST ANDREI. AND THAT IS THE ONLY THING I CARE ABOUT RIGHT NOW.
Question: One of Arlovski’s trainers, famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach, questioned some aspects of your standup from a technical boxing perspective, most notably your footwork. Do you feel Roach’s criticisms are relevant to MMA?
Fedor: THE BEAUTY ABOUT MMA IS THAT EVERY FIGHTER HAS HIS OWN UNIQUE STYLE AND PREFERENCES. BUT IT IS NOT A BEAUTY CONTEST. WE FIGHT TO SEE WHICH FIGHTER’S APPROACH PREVAILS. BUT AGAIN, WE ARE NOT BOXING AND WE ARE NOT FIGHTING SAMBO. WE FIGHT MMA.
Question: How do you feel about an opponent’s trainer picking a part your stand-up like that?
Fedor: SOMETIMES IT IS A TRAINER’S JOB TO POINT OUT WEAKNESSES IN HIS FIGHTER’S OPPONENTS. AND SOMETIMES IT IS A TRAINER’S JOB TO CONVINCE HIS FIGHTER THAT HIS OPPONENT HAS WEAKNESSES. WE WILL SEE.
Question: If you are able to defeat Arlovski, it’s been said your next fight could come against the winner of the Barnett vs. Yvel fight. It’s also been said that you are friends with Barnett. You said you weren’t looking forward to fight Couture because he’s a friend, so how do you feel about the possibility of facing him?
Fedor: YES, JOSH AND I ARE FRIENDS. BUT ONCE AGAIN, THE BEST SHOULD FIGHT THE BEST FOR THE SPORT OF MMA. IT WOULD BE OK.
Question: Your protégé, Kirill “Baby Fedor” Sidelnikov will also be competing at “Day of Reckoning.” At only 20-years of age, do you think he’s ready for such a high-profile match against a seasoned veteran such as Paul Buentello?
Fedor: KIRILL HAS IMPROVED GREATLY WITH HIS FIGHTS IN THE M-1 CHALLENGE AND HELPED OUR RED DEVIL TEAM REACH THE WORLD FINALS. I THINK BUENTELLO IS A OOD TEST FOR KIRILL BUT I KNOW KIRILL IS READY.
Question: During some recent interviews you revealed that you weren’t looking forward to a possible fight vs. Couture because he’s a friend. But if he were suddenly to become a free agent, would you refuse the fight?
Fedor: I WOULD NOT REFUSE THE FIGHT BECAUSE I BELIEVE RANDY AND I ARE BOTH AMBASSADORS FOR THE SPORT OF MMA AND WE WOULD HELP GROW THE SPORT VERY MUCH WITH THE FIGHT. THIS WAS THE MAIN REASON WHY I WANTED TO FIGHT RANDY, EVEN IF IT MEANT TO FIGHT SOMEONE I ADMIRED.
Question: M-1 USA Vice President Jerry Millen made the statement that in a fight with Brock Lesnar, he would not make it past the first round against you. Do you agree with that assessment?
Fedor: I DO NOT LIKE TO MAKE PREDICTIONS. ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN IN A RING. LESNER HAS SOME NATURAL TALENT. IT WOULD BE AN INTERESTING FIGHT FOR FANS TO SEE.
Question: There have also been questions raised about how much control you have over your career. Could you set the record straight and comment as to who has the final say in regard to who has final say: you or your management?
Fedor: IT DEPENDS ON THE DECISIONS. I AM NOT A SPECIALIST IN SOME THINGS. SOMETIMES I MAKE THE DECISIONS AND SOMETIMES WE MAKE THEM TOGETHER. IF I STOP FIGHTING TOMORROW, I STOP. IF I WANT TO FIGHT SAMBO, I FIGHT. IF I NEED TO FINISH MY TRAINING CAMP AND MISS A PRESS CONFERENCE, I NEED TO. BUT I AM LUCKY TO HAVE GOOD MANAGEMENT AND MY TEAM, M-1 GLOBAL. I AM PART OF M-1 GLOBAL SO IT IS EASY TO MAKE DECISIONS TOGETHER.
Question: Ideally, how many times would you like to fight in 2009?
Fedor: GOD WILLING, IT WILL BE NICE TO FIGHT 3 TIMES IN 2009 AND HAVE ONE MORE FIGHT NEW YEARS EVE.
Affliction M-1 “Day Of Reckoning”- Promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and brought to you by Affliction Entertainment and its partners, Donald J. Trump and M-1 Global, Affliction M-1 “Day of Reckoning” is scheduled for January 24 a Honda Center in Anaheim, CA and live on Pay-Per-View. The loaded fight card includes 11 rousing bouts of fierce, full-throttle action headlined by Fedor Emelianenko vs. Andrei Arlovski.
The six-fight blockbuster PPV telecast, beginning at 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT, features MMA stars Josh Barnett, Renato “Babalu” Sobral, Chris Horodecki and Matt Lindland in separate bouts. As a prelude to the highly anticipated PPV telecast, HDNet will televise live beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT five additional fights with the marquee match-up of Antonio Nogueira vs. Vladimir Matyushenko as the main event.
Ticket prices range from $50-$450 and can be purchased through Ticketmaster (available online at www.ticketmaster.com or at all Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at 714-740-2000) and at Honda Center Box Office (714-704-2500).