Conducting a phone interview with Fedor Emelianenko on fight week is a little bit like trying to communicate with the Oracle at Delphi via a can and a string: you only get a few questions, filtered through a couple different channels, and the answers all seem like riddles unto themselves.
To be fair, it could just be this particular fight week (or even this particular interviewer), but the world's top heavyweight wasn't exactly in the most loquacious of moods after he finished up his open workout in San Jose on Wednesday afternoon.
Nonetheless, MMA Fighting finally got some time with "The Last Emperor" to talk about his upcoming Strikeforce bout and the future of his fighting career in general, and he was as efficient with his words as always. Check out the full interview below.
Ben Fowlkes: Looking at the odds and listening to the way fans are talking about this fight, it doesn't seem like many people think Fabricio Werdum has much of a chance. There are some who would say this fight doesn't interest them all that much. Does this fight interest you, and do you feel people are underestimating him?
Fedor Emelianenko: Yes, certainly they are underestimating him. Fabricio is a very serious opponent and very dangerous.
There's been talk that with a political career possibly starting up and your Strikeforce contract nearing an end, you may be considering retirement. How serious a consideration is that for you right now?
I'm not thinking about a political career. While I am performing, while I am competing in mixed martial arts, I'm not thinking about anything else.
How much longer do you think you'll continue fighting?
I cannot tell exactly. Everything will depend on how I feel. If I finish the contract and I find that I feel good, we will consider extending the contract. I would prefer to fight as long as possible, but everything will depend on how I feel.
You recently said that you are not a fan of the UFC and the way they portray the sport. Personally, I can't see a significant difference in the way Strikeforce portrays the sport and the way the UFC portrays it. Can you elaborate on what you meant there?
I did not want to offend the UFC in any way. What I meant is, I don't like to watch fights in general. My main concern is what kind of culture I bring, myself.
And what kind of culture would you say you bring?
It is God who gives us the opportunity to win and to get victories. With my victory, I must always remember that I glorify God. I try to perform honestly during the fight, and I always remember that I'm a representative of Russia. I try not to bring any aggression. Just honesty.
I don't know if you're aware of it, but MMA fans and even some promoters continue to debate whether you are the top heavyweight or the top pound-for-pound fighter. Does it matter at all to you whether people see you this way?
First of all, let me say that this does not affect me at all in any way. As long as I remember myself, it will always work out. It has always been for me that some fighters would appear and people would want to see me in matches against these fighters. That will always happen. As for the UFC, when my contract with Strikeforce is over â€“ I have two fights left on my contract â€“ the UFC will have the time and the opportunity to prepare and offer a contract that may be interesting to me.
Evgeni Kogan recently said on "The MMA Hour" that you are the highest paid fighter in MMA. Is money your main motivation when negotiating a contract, or is it more important to you to fight the kind of competition you want, and on your terms?
Well, I haven't heard this statement from Evgeni Kogan, and, strictly speaking, I don't know what he meant by that. I don't know how much the other fighters make. But I need to tell you that, for myself, money is not the first consideration.