As Fedor Emelianenko, now 40, gears up for a headline slot at Madison Square Garden, New York this Saturday (June 24), Fighters Only spoke to four of his victims to find out what it’s like to compete against ‘The Last Emperor’, otherwise known as MMA’s greatest ever heavyweight.
Matt Mitrione, look away now…
Today is the turn of Hall-of-Famer Mark Coleman, a former UFC heavyweight champion and Pride 2000 openweight grand prix winner, who took on Emelianenko twice in Pride and found himself caught in an armbar on each occasion.
Coleman: “I first fought him in the Pride Grand Prix. I wasn’t prepared to fight him. There were a lot of times when I wasn’t prepared to fight. When I was prepared, I was a dangerous person. I wish I had been prepared for the guy. I think I could have got him. Who knows?
“In our second fight, I had my chances against him. I took him down. I had his back. The next thing you know we were back on our feet and his punches came from everywhere. They came from all different directions. He got me fair and square. He got me good.
“I was honored when he came out and said that he dedicated and molded his game after watching me. That’s how he decided he was going to be a fighter. He could hold his own against anybody.
“He was a ground-and-pound machine. If he got you on the ground he would smash you like the old-school days. He grounded and pounded everybody. I consider Fedor a great friend. He is such a nice guy. I love the way he fought.
“He definitely had an aura. He was a ten-year, undefeated champion. His ability was incredible. Ten years without getting beat, the man had something going for him. He could do it all. Everybody wanted to talk about his looks or his physique. You don’t have to be chiseled and ripped to be a great athlete. It didn’t matter; the guy was super strong. He had the whole package. He could stand. He could ground-and-pound. He was so dedicated to the sport. He was so prepared every time he fought. He was just flat out great. He put in his time and made himself a superstar. In my opinion he was the greatest of all time.”
*** The full ‘Fighting Fedor’ feature can be read in the July 2017 Fedor icon issue of Fighters Only magazine, OUT NOW ***