“The Last Emperor” has finally found his new home.
Sources close to the situation have told Combat Press that Fedor Emelianenko has officially signed with the UFC, with an official announcement set to be made in the coming weeks. According to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Emelianenko is currently looking at options for his Octagon debut.
Although nothing has been confirmed as yet, a separate source indicated that there is a chance that Emelianenko will debut at UFC 193 in the co-main event for Melbourne’s first UFC visit. Although former K-1 champion Mark Hunt is already slated to compete in a rematch against Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva, “The Super Samoan” previously offered to welcome Emelianenko to the Octagon, and would be the likely opponent for Emelianenko if he fights in Melbourne. The event is headlined by a women’s bantamweight title bout between Ronda Rousey and Holly Holm. The event, which takes place from Etihad Stadium, is expected to break the company’s attendance records with ease.
Emelianenko last fought in 2012 when he defeated Pedro Rizzo in the first round. He later announced his retirement following that bout. The legendary heavyweight was widely considered to be the best fighter in the world during his prime in the Japanese-based Pride organization. The Russian fighter claimed Pride’s heavyweight title in 2003 with a win over Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and never relinquished the belt, defeating the likes of Nogueira, Mark Coleman, Kevin Randleman and the aforementioned Hunt along the way. He continued his impressive run in Affliction, where he topped former UFC heavyweight champions Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski. Emelianenko’s aura of invincibility came to an end under the Strikeforce banner, where he went on a three-fight skid with losses to current UFC heavyweight champion Fabricio Werdum, the aforementioned Bigfoot and Dan Henderson. The sambo specialist ended his career on a high note by compiling a three-fight winning streak that included knockouts of Satoshi Ishii and Rizzo.