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MMA legend Emelianenko slams penalties, talks about next opponent

Russian brawler wants to face Bellator heavyweight champion Ryan Bader in his next fight and see the sport kept out of politics

Russian MMA icon Fedor Emelianenko has spoken out on the IMMAF’s decision to remove Russian athletes from amateur competition while ruling out a possible meeting with Junior Dos Santos in the octagon.

The IMMAF suspended the Russian MMA Union (RMMAU) on March 1 while following a recommendation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that has been heeded by many federations in response to the Russian military operation in Ukraine.

Speaking on the issue at the studios of St Petersburg-based media giant Okko, the legendary fighter reiterated the need to keep politics out of sports, but expressed hope that countries that have sanctioned Russia and “try to put a spoke in our wheels”will be “come to their senses again”.

“They will understand that without Russia they cannot go anywhere,” Emelianenko said.

As for the last fight of his current deal with Bellator, Emelianenko has ended talks regarding Junior dos Santos, who is signed to former UFC lightweight king Khabib Nurmagomedov’s Eagle FC.

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The Brazilian and Emelianenko’s compatriot showed interest in a cross-promotion fight, but Emelianenko confirmed no one from Nurmagomedov’s team contacted him and there’s also less appeal now due of Dos Santos’ loss with Eagle FC to Yorgan De Castro. .

A meeting was scheduled with [Bellator president] Scott Cocker. But, as I understand it, Scott and I are not interested in this fight with Junior dos Santos. First of all, because of the defeat of the latter [Dos Santos]”,stressed Emelianenko.

Emelianenko has revealed that Coker wants him to fight in the fall, and he personally wants to face current heavyweight champion Ryan Bader who beat him by first-round TKO at Bellator 2014 to win both the belt of the division and the World Heavyweight Grand Prix in 2019.

Emelianenko explained how New York’s Madison Square Garden has been discussed to host the event with Japan also an alternative now that the previously announced venue, Moscow’s Red Square, is a non-runner.

If the fight really is his last, the 45-year-old will retire as he is widely regarded as one of the greatest fighters of all time, with Sports Illustrated dubbing him the greatest mixed martial artist of the 2000s.


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