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 Olympic silver medalist Matt Lindland, who, undersized but undeterred, traveled to St Petersburg to challenge Fedor at BodogFIGHT: Clash of the Nations, only to succumb to an armbar at 2:58 of round one.
Lindland: “I certainly was trying to prove something. I was going out there to beat him. There was no question about it. Challenge accepted. Let’s go. I never backed away from a challenge, especially when your job is being a prizefighter. If somebody offers you a big enough prize, you take the fight.
“I landed a very good punch right from the get-go. My strategy was working. I got him into the clinch. I was going to take him to the ground, in my control. There was a lot of rope grabbing. There was elbow grabbing. There were a variety of styles of illegal rope grabbing. Ultimately, he released the ropes and hit that reverse throw and put me to the floor.
“He had a really freaking tight ankle-lock. That was the part I remember. I was thinking that it really hurt but I knew it wasn’t going to break and it’s not going to tear, so I was just going to fight it. My leg was black and blue from that the next day.
“We scrambled around some more and he hit that armbar the way a guy would typically hit a kneebar. He was on his hips and he extended and went to one hip, he popped his hips forward and finished the armbar. It was a nice technique.
“He’s a great fighter. As far as that aura, I felt like he was a contemporary. I competed against him. I didn’t want to get caught up in that, for sure. He was very good. Most of my career I fought really good fighters. Actually, my whole career I fought really good fighters. I was a little bit past my prime fighting guys like Robbie Lawler and Vitor Belfort. It wasn’t a stretch for me to go fight the best in the world.”
*** The full ‘Fighting Fedor’ feature can be read in the July 2017 Fedor icon issue of Fighters Only magazine, OUT NOW ***