. Radio interview with Fedor Emelianenko on Radio Sport, Moscow, January 11, 2007.
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01.12.2007

Radio interview with Fedor Emelianenko on Radio Sport, Moscow, January 11, 2007.

Radio Interviewer: Hello! All right, I am done with my preamble.

Fedor Emelianenko: Hello, good evening.

RI: Good evening. Fedor, you have a great tradition. Like that famous movie character that every December 31st went to the sauna with his friends (reference to a popular 1975 Soviet movie “Irony of Fate” - CF), you have a tradition: for the last four years on the night of December 31st, you’ve walked onto the tatami of the famous Saytama Arena in Tokyo to defend your championship title in no holds barred fighting against the best of the best athletes in Pride. So, it happened again, you’ve won. Tell us about it.

FE: I faced a notable fighter, Mark Hunt, the K-1 champion, and won during the 9th minute of the match via tapout.

RI: So it was practically over in one round?

FE: Yes, it was just one round. I could have won much earlier, during the second minute, but it didn’t quite work out, that is, I went a little easy on him, and....

RI: What do you mean? You “went easy on him”?

FE: (laughs) Well, no, it’s not like I literally took pity on him....

RI: Does that ever happen in no holds barred fights?

FE: Well, it happens sometimes that when your opponent is just bearing the pain, you can step over and finish the submission by breaking the joints, but I just held back a little thinking that he’ll tap out. Meanwhile, he did not tap and escaped.

RI: So, while you were thinking of his well-being, he was escaping the submission?

FE: Yes. Well, the second time I didn’t hold back anymore.

RI (laughs): Even though you are so nonchalant about it, in general no holds barred fighting is not a sport for the weak and squeamish. It’s for people who are prepared both mentally and physically. This fight was difficult for you because of the simple fact that on December 11 you broke your toe during training. An injury like that does not heal fast, even on a person as big and strong as you. Did it bother you during this championship match, and if so, how did you deal with it?

FE: No, the injury did not bother me. One thing that bothered me was that I got injured three weeks before the fight and could not stand on that leg, could not run, could not spar, could not grapple, so all I had left was just standing in front of a punching bag and hitting it over and over again.

RI: So, punches only?

FE: Yes, just punches. I should have been under heavier workload, but in general I was prepared well. I wasn’t 100%, but I was close. The injury affected my preparation, of course, but I did not feel it during the fight. I did not really use the toe during the fight, so it did not get injured any more that it was already, and it did not bother me.

RI: Did you keep the injury a secret? For example, professional boxers as a rule conceal their injuries. If they are about to fight, they don’t talk about their injuries to prevent their opponents from using the injury against them. You probably conceal your injuries as well, right?

FE: No, I generally do not conceal my injuries. If I decided to fight, then I’ve already considered it. Many fighters, many athletes make public announcements after the competition, saying: “You see, I was injured, so....”

RI: Perhaps they are making excuses for their defeat.

FE: Yes, I think so. I announced my injury, but I still decided to fight, so that’s that.

RI: We have a question from one of our listeners. Hello, Vitaliy.

Vitaliy: Hello, Irina, Hello, Fedor. My name is Vitaliy Krasni-Beli. Thank you for organizing this meeting. Fedor, you are a great fighter.

FE: Thank you. Thank you, very much.

Vitaliy: I respect you, well, from the bottom of my heart.

FE: Thank you.

Vitaliy: I want to ask four questions. What’s your height and fighting weight, that’s one, how long do you plan to compete, and my third question is what percentage of your training is conditioning versus technique, and my fourth question is whether you have ever experienced any self-doubt in the ring, because you create this impression of this self-confident machine, like this self-confident Russian machine is just, like, moving and leaving no chances for foreign competitors. Thank you.

FE: Thank you very much for your questions. I am 182 cm (6 ft. – CF) tall, and I weigh 103kg (227 lb – CF) right now, I was a little heavier before, I used to be 106 kg (233.7 lb – CF), but now I compete at 103.

RI: How long are you planning to compete?

FE: Well, it depends on my health.... I plan to compete as long as possible.

RI: We should probably knock wood at this point, and maybe spit over the left shoulder, there can be injuries, and opponents who have a completely opposite point of view... What’s the proportion of conditioning to technique in your training?

FE: It depends on the stage of training. If I am between fights, then... Well, I don’t separate my training into conditioning and technique. I constantly work on both, I just increase or decrease the workload. I am always working with partners, so I always have to grapple and counter the physical strength of my opponents, and use technique as well.

RI: Nikolay Valuev (heavyweight boxing champion –CF), or rather, his coaching team is complaining a lot that it’s extremely hard to find partners for him to spar with. They said that after several deep knockouts and knockdowns, the athletes just crawl out of the ring saying “Never again”. Do you have trouble finding sparring partners?

FE: Actually I became a champion of the world by training with two welterweights who were only at the “CMS” level, “Candidates for the Master of Sports” degree in Judo (CMS is the lowest ranking for professional athletes in Russia. The next level is Master of Sports, followed by International Master of Sports and Honorary Master of Sports - CF) I think it depends much more on your intellect, on whether you can outthink your opponent, and your preparation. Of course sparring practice plays an important part. For example, I couldn’t prepare for the fight with Mirko Crocop with these two guys, but I did prepare for the fight with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira with them when I took his belt for the first time.

RI: That was in 2003, right?

FE: Yes. I prepared for the fights against Sammy Schilt and Heath Herring with them. Later, when I had to prepare for Mirko Crocop I traveled to Holland specifically to develop kicking technique, and studied Muay Thai.

RI: So, despite the fact that you are the champion of the world, you nevertheless have to constantly study?

FE: Yes, I have to improve all the time. The more well-rounded you are as a fighter, the more difficult it is for your opponent to predict and anticipate your actions.

RI: As far as self-confidence or self-doubt go, do you ever, even sub-consciously, think “I can’t do it”, “I am weaker than he is”? Or is it always full steam ahead, there is no turning back...

FE: (laughs) With marching songs...
RI: Right, beating drums and such...

FE: No, there is no self doubt, but any athlete has some nerves before the competition. How correctly the athlete will handle the fight depends on him and his team. It depends on how much they are able to help him. I try to avoid thinking about the fights, and just live my normal life. When I enter the fight, it is really already too late to think about anything.

RI: We have a question from Sergey. Hello, Sergey.

Sergey: Hello.

FE: Hello, Sergey.

Sergey: Hello, Fedor. I am so glad to be able to talk to you. I am studying Combat Sambo under Valeriy Valentinovich Vlasov (Sergey goes on for a while about his club, its affiliations and how it fits in the Sambo Federation). The guys are now asking me via ICQ to invite you to our gym to do a seminar. So, we are inviting you. And I also have a question for you: when are you going to compete in Combat Sambo again, which competitions, etc. When are you going to fight Mirko? When are you going to fight in UFC? And why is Alexander not performing that well recently?

FE: Hmm. (pause) Well, I need your address, then...

Sergey: I can leave it here, maybe the call screener can take it down.

FE: Yes, sure. The thing is that I just have a catastrophic shortage of time. I have to keep going to these... Even when I am not competing myself, I have to schlep all over either to accompany our guys as an honorary guest whenever they compete, or just when people invite me, abroad and in Russia. You know what, if I have time, we’ll organize a visit and I’ll definitely come see you guys.

RI: The next question is about the reasons for Aleksander’s defeats...

FE: Just one second – I’ll compete next time, most likely, in February, in the Russian Championship (Fedor is talking about the Combat Sambo championship – CF), but we still have to finalize that. Most likely, I’ll compete under 100 kg, since Aleksander will compete as a heavyweight.
As far as Aleksander’s training goes, well, we haven’t been training together for a long time, because he is a little, I don’t know, star struck by himself. Basically, he decided to do his own thing, and we decided to let him go on his own and see what comes of it. He lost two out of his last three fights.
As far as fighting Mirko goes, he just moved to UFC. He won the Gran Prix and immediately moved to UFC. I don’t know yet whether I’ll compete in UFC myself, it’s all up to my manager. My contract with Pride is expiring, and the decision of where I will fight next depends on the compensation – so it all depends on my manager. Pride wants to keep us, and ...

RI: Of course.

FE: and we have some preliminary agreements in place.

RI: Pride is one of the most prestigious MMA organizations, anyway.

FE: At this point, Pride is the most prestigious MMA organization in the world, and there is really nothing comparable out there. UFC is second, but it is significantly lagging behind, I think, based on their roster, the number of viewers, and the size of the stadiums they fill.

RI: We have Fedor Emelianenko in our studio, the champion of the World according to the most prestigious, as he so precisely stated (laughs), MMA organization in the world.

FE: (Laughs) It’s not just me, it’s surveys, Internet...

RI: Of course, I am joking. The most prestigious organization in no holds barred fighting, or MMA, is Pride. Or next caller is Margarita. Hello.

FE: Hello, Margarita.

Margarita: Hello? Hello, Fedor.

FE: Hello.

Margarita: We are sitting here with Michael Zayats! (Michael Zayats is an MMA fighter affiliated with the Red Devil Team - CF)

(Fedor starts laughing)

Margarita: and listening to you. He said that you are going to Seoul, if I am not mistaken.

Fedor: Yes.

Margarita: So. I have written to you before.

Fedor: Yes, yes. (You can hear that Fedor is smiling – CF)

Margarita: I was really looking forward to speaking with you, and I wanted to ask you: I really want to compete and to join your team, and I don’t know where to start and how to do it.

Fedor: Hmm. (pause) Well, I did write back to you. (Laughs)

Margarita (laughs): yes, you did.

Fedor: Well, say hello to Michael for me... Tell him to keep training.

Margarita: Oh, he is training, he is training! We are all training him here.

Fedor: Well, I don’t know. We should meet and see, train together a little bit. Of course you’ll have to talk to Vadim (Vadim Finkelstein, Fedor’s manager – CF). I never worked with women, or with girls, so... we’ll need to meet and try training together.

Margarita (speaks fast): Great! Are you going to let me know somehow when you are going to be free? Maybe via Michael? I just, you know, have so many ambitions and emotions, and I don’t want to just burn out and not achieve anything and just be left with nothing, you know.

Fedor: Well, I think first of all you need to coordinate this with Vadim, our manager, (pause) through Michael. Hmm. Well, it’s really no problem – we’ll train together some, and ...

RI: She can try out.

Fedor: Right, she can try out.

Margarita: Thank you so much! Goodbye.

Fedor: Good bye, thank you.

RI: “McCloud” sent us a question: do you prepare differently for fighters with different martial art backgrounds? Does it make a difference for you? Also, do you ever feel sorry for your defeated opponents?

FE: (pause) I wouldn’t say that I train differently for different fighters now, because I think that at this point of my career I am ready for any fighter. I just adjust my training to focus more on one technique or the other. I have now mastered ground grappling as it applies to fighting; my throws, I think, are good; my striking skills with arms and legs, in general, are on par with leading K-1 fighters. I’ve been through many training camps in Holland. So, at this point, I am ready for fighters of all martial art styles.

RI:... oh, before you answer the second question, let me read this SMS from Igor, because it’s just so... enthusiastic. “PVK CSKA. Fedor is a true man’s man. I saw his fight with a Croatian policeman (Igor must be talking about Mirko CroCop – CF). When was this?”

FE: It was in the August of 2005, or maybe in September, not in August. We were going to fight the second time at the New Years show, but he declined and moved to UFC.

(tape skips. It appears that now Fedor is answering whether he ever feels sorry for his defeated opponents - CF)

Actually, no. I feel the adrenaline rush, happiness, lots of emotions, but I don’t feel sorry.

RI: Hello Peter.

Peter: Hello Irina, hello Fedor.

FE: Hello.

Peter: Fedor, thank you so much for your great victory, for the glory of Russian muscles and power. Good luck to you in everything.

FE: Thank you. Thank you very much.

Peter: I have two questions for you. First, what do you do in your free time, and what are your favorite sports. Second, I am sure that many large companies approach you with sponsorship offers. My question is whether you gain more financially from the victories themselves or from the sponsorship deals. Finally, which Russian mythical hero would you say you are more similar to: Ilya Muromets, Dobrynya Nikitich, or Alyosha Popovich? Also, in this New Year, I wish you more great victories; I wish you to stand strong and instill fear in the hearts of your opponents. Fedor is number one, forever. Thank you.

Fedor: Thank you so much. Thank you.

RI: Should we start with the first question? What do you do in your free time, and what sports do you favor?

FE: My free time, hmm

RI: Does not exist?

FE: Right, it practically does not exist, but if I am at training camps I like to read books during my rest, or to draw.

RI: Sports?

FE: Well, I actually like to play soccer, but I play very rarely, because when I prepare for fights I avoid activities that could lead to injuries. Soccer is injury prone for me – I can break a toe. I actually broke a toe playing soccer.

RI: Oh, that’s what happened!

FE: (laughs) No, not this time, it was a long time ago. I like to play chess, a lot; I play chess with my friends almost every day.

RI: Let’s talk about commercials. Do you get such offers?

FE: Yes, I was in commercials several times, they also filmed me for a computer game, and my photo was used in some ads, but at this point the fight winnings are definitely a bigger part of my income. So, let’s just say that my stimulus for fighting is no less than it was before.

RI: There was some information that a famous Russian pop-star, Valeria, wanted to film you in her music video. Jean Claude van Damme also wanted you somewhere next to him in some movie. Did any of this actually happen, or is it about to happen?

FE: No, at this point I simply can’t break my training regimen, and my schedule is very full. I think that at this point I should do what I do best, and what others expect of me.

RI: So you don’t have time for Valeria or Van Damme just yet?

FE: (sighs) Right.

RI: They are on the waiting list.

FE: Well, yes. (both laugh)

RI: Not bad. Peter’s last question was very interesting. Who would you say you are similar to: Ilya Muromets, Alyosha Popovich or Dobrynya Nikitich?

FE: I really don't think of myself in comparison to any mythical heroes. I respect this subject very much. These are our heroes, I love them, of course, and I love our cartoons (Fedor probably means cartoons about these mythical heroes – CF), I’ve probably seen them a thousand times. (laughs) But I don’t compare myself to any of them.

RI: We have a caller on the line. Hello, Ruslan.

Ruslan: Hello.

FE: Hello, Ruslan.

Ruslan: Hello, Fedor. I can’t believe that I am actually talking to Fedor Emelianenko himself.

FE: Thank you very much.

Ruslan: I’d like to tell you how grateful I am to you. You are the pride of Russia.

FE: Thank you.

Ruslan: You set an example for us, the natives of Caucasus (region in Middle Asia including parts of Russia and countries further South like Georgia and Armenia - CF).

FE: Thank you.

Ruslan: Um, I have a request for you: would you be able to leave your autograph, as a gift – sorry, I am very overwhelmed – so that Radio Sport can use it as a listener give-away? I hope that I will be able to win it, so that I can show it to my friends with pride. Thank you again, Fedor.

FE: Thank you. Thank you very much. Yeah, we’ll think of something.

RI: “Aragorn” sent us this SMS: “Fedor, thank you for your exciting victories. Who taught you striking technique? Do you know Oleg Taktarov and Andrey Kochargin? Good health and good luck to you.

FE: My boxing coach, Aleksandr Michkov taught me striking with arms. He trained Michael Oganov, a European champion, and other well-known boxers. So, it was all him.
I trained my leg striking technique in Holland with such famous coaches as Johan Vos who trained Ernesto Hoost, and Lucine Carden 000, who was a famous fighter and has coached many fighters since.

RI: What about Oleg Taktarov and Andrey Kochargin?

FE: I know Oleg Taktarov; we often call each other on the phone to talk. I don’t know Andrey Kochargin.

(News break)

RI: We are continuing our conversation with Fedor Emelianenko, the world champion in no holds barred fighting. Yustas asks where one can buy DVDs with your fights.

FE: At this point, you can’t buy them anywhere, since we have no licensed distributors (in Russia – CF). Most likely the reason is that there are too many pirated DVDs. So right now, you can’t buy them anywhere.

RI: You need to create your own production company, like Van Damme.

(Tape skips. It appears that now Fedor is answering what martial arts the caller or possibly the caller’s son should study for self-defense if he is not planning to compete)

FE: If he is just doing it for his own benefit, its probably best is to study boxing; he is not a kid anymore. (Fedor says something indistinct). You should tell the coach that it is not for competition, so that he does not put him in tough sparring sessions. He should also study grappling to some degree to be able to feel the opponent, you know, get the under hooks...

RI (laughs): Oh-oh, we are getting into some really technical terminology here. Igor, hello.

Igor: Hello Irina, hello Fedor.

FE: Hello.

Igor: My question is this. I’ve seen many fights and I see that Sambo and Judo practitioners usually win. I want to ask, do Karate or Taekwondo practitioners have a chance to win at all? Also, what were your toughest fights in Pride?

RI: So, according to Igor grapplers have an edge.

FE: Well, early on it was about grapplers winning against strikers, but it’s really not true anymore – if a striker knows what he is doing, he will keep moving and control the distance. My point is that early on when you had pure strikers against pure grapplers, the grapplers won more often. Today, we really don’t have pure grapplers or strikers. Everybody is trying to be more well-rounded. If they don’t strike they at least know how to protect themselves so they don’t walk into strikes, and the strikers study grappling to know how to move and change positions to be able to control the position on the ground and avoid submissions. The more well rounded the fighter is, the more difficult it is to fight him.

RI: So, the hardest fights are the ones against well-rounded fighters?

FE: Yes.

RI: (gives a short overview of the premise and history of MMA) Hello, Mikhail. Mikhail?

Mikhail: Hello.

FE: Hello.

Mikhail: Fedor, Happy New Year to you, Merry Christmas.

FE: Thank you

Mikhail: I am calling from Seoul. I know that you’ll be here on the 20th. We are going to be there and cheer for you (Mikhail is talking about the MFC Red Devil vs. Korea MMA show on January 20th in Seoul. Fedor is not fighting, but he is accompanying the team as an honorary guest. –CF)

FE: Thank you very much.

Mikhail: We’ll give you a thousand percent support

FE: Thank you.

Mikhail: We know you are going to win and that the team will win.

FE: Thank you. The team will do their best.

Mikhail: Well, that’s all I had. You can count on me for a flag, loud cheering,

(FE laughs)

Mikhail: ... banners, the whole works.

FE: Thank you very much.

Mikhail: Good luck!

FE: Thank you.

RI: “Fedor, what’s your website?” asks ‘RedGreen’ in his SMS.

FE: fedor.bel.ru

RI: Very simple. ‘MaCloud’ sent another SMS: “You have a very calm voice,” – he is talking about you, Fedor – “In your voice, I can hear confidence and great power. Good luck and all the best to you.”

FE: Thank you very much. That was very nice of you.

RI: Valerusik asks:” Would you like to train military special forces?” Oh no, poor special forces, I am sorry for them already.

FE: No, why not? Of course I’d like to. I’d like to pass on my knowledge; I’ve really accumulated a lot of it. I’d like to train young fighters and prepare the next generation that could take over. And of course, when it comes to our special forces, all in all, I can be helpful to some degree if I can pass along some of my knowledge.

RI: I presume that would only happen after your retirement from active professional competition, since training any special forces in Russia or abroad – well, they are not going to let you teach abroad, you’ll be classified as an expert with possession of state secrets

(Fedor laughs)

RI: so you’ll have to train our special forces only. I think it is not practical to combine both competition and teaching.

FE: Well, actually, no. If people are trained already, they can be given some information and they will work on it themselves. A two to three hour training seminar can be enough to...

RI: To point them in the right direction?

FE: Right, to show them the right direction.

RI: And they will advance in that direction in a marching formation.

FE: (laughs): Well, not in a formation, but it can be informative

R: ... something for their consideration.

FE: Yes. The seminar can be filmed and then they can analyze it more later, figure out the directions, the transitions, and the techniques.

RI: You said that you are constantly learning more.

FE: Yes.

RI: So what happens when you’ve learned everything and there is nothing more to learn, if you have no more competition and you’ve fought everyone ranked near you? What’s next? What would you study then? I understand that it’s hard to improve when there is no fighter you can measure yourself against, someone who can really compete with you.

FE: Well, I don’t know about that. (laughs). No, really, I don’t think like that. There are many areas in which I need to improve, and which I need to work on. I think that my best skill is that I can see my mistakes and the mistakes of my competitor. I see my own mistakes and I don’t let my competitor use my mistakes or my weak points.

RI: Maybe this is not an appropriate question, but nevertheless, have you ever competed in underground fights?

FE: No, never.

RI: Do you know about the underground fighting business?

FE: Only from the movies. (laughs)

RI: People usually say that they are ‘aware’ of it.

FE: No, I have never encountered it in real life.

RI: Have you heard about betting on fights?

FE: I have. I know that people bet money, both in Internet casinos and in Las Vegas.

RI: Have you ever been tempted to place a bet on yourself? To win, of course.

FE: You know, that’s not how I earn money. I never had the temptation.

RI: You mentioned that your image was used in computer games. Do you like computer games yourself? What about violence in computer games? Do you welcome it, can it teach anything?

FE: No, I don’t welcome it. I like playing computer games at training camps when there is nothing to do. Others like playing cards, and I sometimes like to play computer games to entertain myself.

RI: (asks a long-winded question about whether computer ‘fighting simulators’ can teach anything.) They can simulate a situation where one fighter is, let’s say, a boxer, and the other is a karateka. Is there even a shadow of reality in it?

FE: (pauses, sighs) In a computer?

RI: Yes, sure.

FE: I don’t even know... I haven’t seen anything like what you are describing. Anyway, please understand that you cannot compare different sports. You cannot compare them, they are completely different. They progress via different goals, or rather, they are going towards the same goal but they take different roads. It’s not about deciding which style is better; it’s about reaching the perfection in your own sport. It’s about the psychology, the ideas, the ideology, and instilling the fighting spirit in the athlete.

RI: You said something very accurate, something that, by the way, many people in martial arts, whether it’s karate, or judo, or sambo, do not say very often. “It’s about the fighting spirit”. Today, much more emphasis is placed on the outside, on what’s visible: the power, the punches, maybe the spirit that is shown by fighters who do not tap out to submissions, and try to escape. What do you mean by the notion of a “fighting spirit”? Is it not tapping out in the ring, or is it something else?

FE: It is something completely different. I think it’s a very broad notion. It includes perseverance in training, ability to deal with difficulties in life, and, I don’t know, much more, I think.

RI: So, it’s not someone who goes out, punches and performs throws, but someone with his own opinion in life, his own philosophy, which helps him to ...

FE: Yes.

RI: ... to punch and throw while maintaining his human self. After seeing bloodied, beat up fighters at the conclusion of many no holds barred fights, it’s hard to imagine what this person might be like in normal life.

FE: For me, what I do is not a dogfight. It’s not a dogfight where many, let’s just say, come out grinding their teeth ...

RI: thinking: “Tear him apart”.

FE: Right, “tear him apart”, they want to hit and inflict as much pain as possible, and then they also get hit and their whole outlook changes. For me, it’s a sport. For me, it’s a sport, and I am interested in learning various martial art styles, in improving myself, and I enter the ring as an athlete.

RI: Gennadiy has a question.

Gennadiy: Good evening, hello, Fedor.

RI: Hello.

FE: Good evening.

Gennadiy: I completely agree and I support Fedor’s statement that any sport, whether it is Aikido or Tae-Kwon-Do, in principle, is not the same as the real application of these sports in a fight. Based on this and some other statements by Fedor, I’d like to ask him: Fedor, today we rarely see people in the ring who can properly strike with both hands or perform breaks with their legs. Facial cuts are a sign of, strictly speaking, a low quality strike, since strikes should break bones. Thank you.

FE: (pauses) I compete in gloves, and as a rule ... Well, no, strong strikes sometimes just break skin. I think that... Well, I don’t even know who we should direct your question to – maybe, some medical professionals... I don’t know, I am sorry.

RI: Zel asks: “Fedor, which soccer clubs do you like?” We can’t avoid soccer even in this interview.

FE: (sighs). This is a difficult question. I really don’t follow soccer, especially when it comes to the Russian team. Let’s just say, I find this whole situation unpleasant (Fedor seems to be talking about some Russian soccer politics – CF).

RI: (speaks over Fedor) Ok, then let me ask you (Fedor keeps talking), May I ask you about something pleasant then?

FE: (laughs) Yes, of course.

RI: I know that you are planning to start building a house this year. Is that right?

FE: That’s right.

RI: Good. What’s the house going to be like, and where is it going to be built?

FE: I want a wooden house, and as far as it’s location...

RI: Well, it’s not going to be a wooden house like in Russian folk tales, even though you are a folk tale hero yourself, right?

FE: (laughs)

RI: A house must be very modern.

FE: I think the house will be in Stary Oskol.

RI: You moved there from Ukraine when you were two years old.

FE: Well, yes, we moved there, but I remember myself in Oskol since birth – that’s how I see it. I don’t remember myself in Ukraine. I remember visiting Ukraine to see my grandmothers. Oskol is my home town.

RI: Ruslan asks which fighters you idolized.

FE: Idolized... Hmm...

RI: Did you have any idols?

FE: Well, they weren’t idols, but there were people who I admired. Idolizing is not my thing.

RI: So, who did you admire?

FE: I admired, and I greatly respected, and still do, Oleg Taktarov. He might not have won every time, and maybe his technique was not, well, but I like his heart, his desire to win. I always liked Igor Vovchanchyn. I also, of course, admire Randy Couture, who never used illegal moves, and became the champion of the world in UFC at the age of 43, I think, in the under 93 kg (205 lb.) bracket. That’s definitely a man with great courage and great talent.

RI: Your first title was in Sambo – you became a Master of Sports in Sambo. Traditionally, our Sambo practitioners also compete in Judo as well as Sambo.

FE: Yes.

RI: What was missing in Judo and Sambo for you to start studying striking technique? What was missing in these great grappling styles? Were you bored? Did you decide that...

FE: Are you asking why I started MMA?

RI: Yes.

FE: Yes I was a Master of Sports. Right after the army, I completed the requirements for Judo and Sambo, and a little later I became an International Master of Sports in these sports, I was in the Russian national team, but there weren’t enough financing. That’s very simply why. I was really in a dead end, so I had to start MMA fighting. I had to leave everything – I already, let’s just say, made a name for myself, but I had to leave it all and start from zero. After I started MMA fighting I realized that I had to study striking technique.

RI: So, the reasons were quit mundane. Life forced your hand.

FE: I don’t regret it. When I started fighting I realized that I would be successful there as well.

RI: Well, I feel that after becoming a fighter you gained a huge following and fame, especially since these fights are now widely shown (on Russian TV – CF), and they started becoming more popular, judging by the fact that the Eurosport channel now shows K-1 fights, even though they, let’s just say, rarely pay attention to martial arts – and I am being generous. In your opinion, what is the reason for the popularity of MMA?

FE: I think it’s because (pauses)

RI: After all, it’s a tough, cruel style.

FE: Why cruel? If you watch first rate MMA masters, it’s not cruelty. It’s a sport. Why? Is it cruel to watch beautiful boxing matches?

RI: I agree.

FE: Of course, it depends on the person, but I like it. It’s enjoyable to watch any performance by professionals in their sport.

RI: I agree that it’s enjoyable to watch professionals, even if they are chopping wood.

(Fedor laughs)

RI: One can see their style in their work, and get lost in admiration. On the other hand, for example, there is my opinion – and it is the opinion of the vast majority of non-fighters out there. Compared to the high class, intellectual, full of tradition, etc. sport like tennis, which is not a full contact sport, and then to box, which is also an English sport, there is a major difference with no holds barred fighting. Is there a difference between tennis, boxing, and no holds barred fighting? We are not talking about, say, the skills required to perform certain techniques, but about the visual perception of the sport. After all, no holds barred fights are tougher.

FE: Yes, they are more tough. They are tougher, but I like it.

RI: Well, it’s pretty clear that you like no holds barred fights.

FE: A lot of people like it, a whole lot of people. I don’t know, I hope that I am not bringing cruelty to people, I want to show a beautiful fight...

RI: And you do so.

FE: ... I want people to admire the performance.

RI: Nikolay, hello.

Nikolay: Hello.

FE: Hello.

Nikolay: Hello, Fedor. I have a question about the past - I am ashamed that I don’t know how old you are, Fedor...

FE: I am 30.

Nikolay: 30... You and I were born in the same year. If you remember, there was a guy from the famous Gracie school who competed in the octagon. I don’t remember his last name, but his first name was Victor…

FE: Belfort.

Nikolay: His hand speed ...

FE: His name is Belfort.

Nikolay: ...was just crazy good.

FE: I know who you are talking about. What would you like to ask?

Nikolay: Have you ever fought anyone from the Gracie school, and what do you think about that school? Also, we now also have a young fighter – he is 23 years old, I think – Ruslan Karaev. He competes in K-1, and I saw 3 or 4 of his fights, and he seems to be pretty good. What do you think about him? Thank you, and good luck in Seoul.

FE: Thank you. Thank you, very much. I don’t remember whether Victor Belfort... Well, he does have a crazy good hand striking technique, he is very quick, but as far as I know, he is not from the Gracie school. The Gracie school is primarily about grappling and they don’t have any, let’s just say, remarkably fast hands. Victor Belfort is still competing, he had several fights in Pride, and he is still in Pride. Unfortunately, he was not very successful; he had several defeats, and he had more defeats than victories. Recently during the competition in Las Vegas, in the USA, he talked to me and kept asking to train together, and asked to come to our training camps.

RI: Did you agree?

FE: Yes. We gave him our contact info. He will contact us, and...

RI: Fedor, please give us your contact too, ok?

FE (laughs)

RI: I’d like to remind our listeners that today in our studio we had Fedor Emelianenko, the world champion in Pride no holds barred fighting, or rather mixed martial arts fighting, in the heavyweight division. Fedor, I wish you good luck, ...

FE: Thank you

RI: and I wish you to keep performing beautiful fights without any injuries, ...

FE: Thank you.

RI: ... and to keep enjoying what you do. Thank you.

FE: Thank you, and thank you to all of my fans. Everything I do, I do for you.

Trancribed and translated by Армбар Кимура, aka Casual Fighter.

Fedor, interview source: http://efedor.ru/index_eng.shtml?id=138

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