When the world saw a bruised and battered Fedor Emelianenko walk out of the cage after his Feb. 12 loss to fellow heavyweight contender Antonio Silva, many fans felt that it would be the last time we would see “The Last Emperor” step into a cage or ring.
The consensus proved to be wrong.
According to Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker, Emelianenko (31-3 MMA, 1-2 SF), will be returning to the now Zuffa-owned promotion at a yet-to-be-announced July event.
Coker announced the plans on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” Radio Show on Wednesday. The Strikeforce CEO hinted that this is a do-or-die fight for the former PRIDE heavyweight champion.
“You gotta perform. I think he did a good job against Silva, and that worked out the way he did, but he’s still a competitive fighter that can compete at the highest level on any given Saturday night,” said Coker. “I think this next one’s gonna be very important. He’s gonna have to perform.”
Emelianenko’s storied career began in 2000. Up until a submission loss to Fabricio Werdum in June 2010, the Russian had never truly lost in 32 professional MMA bouts. The only loss on his record came by way of an early doctor’s stoppage. The loss to Antonio Silva most recently was Emelianenko’s second loss in two fights.
Between 2002 and 2006, Emelianenko amassed an impressive 14-0 record under the now defunct PRIDE Fighting Championship banner– with notable wins over Mirko Cro Cop, Mark Coleman, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (twice), and Kevin Randleman. It was during that time that many saw Emelianenko as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world and an unstoppable force.
It remains to be seen if the 34-year old can revitalize his career, regain his belt, and climb his way back up towards the top of the MMA rankings.