Fedor Emelianenko (31-4 MMA, 1-3 SF) returned to Stary Oskol, Russia, on Sunday to be with his newborn daughter and wife following a TKO loss to Dan Henderson at this past Saturday's "Strikeforce and M-1 Global: Fedor vs. Henderson."
With three consecutive losses marking his recent rГ©sumГ©, Emelianenko faces the decision to continue fighting or call it a career.
That decision, though, rests entirely with him, an executive from M-1 Global today told MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com). As to which way Emelianenko is leaning, the answer is unknown.
"He's usually вЂ“ internally as well as to the media вЂ“ pretty quiet on that kind of stuff," said Evgeni Kogan, the Director of Operations for M-1 Global, a fight promotion company partially owned by the heavyweight fighter.
Kogan said the company has no say on whether Emelianenko should or shouldn't retire.
"Once he makes a decision about things, he lets Vadim (Finkelchtein, his manager and M-1 Global co-owner) know, and than it goes through the rest of the team," he said. "But he's very much the guy that makes the decisions, and on this one, I have to say that I just simply don't know.
"I think we as an organization have been growing this year and doing stuff in the U.S. and Russia, so hopefully there's been a little bit of a split, both in the eyes of the media and the fans, between the M-1 entity which has traditionally been seen as Fedor's management, and the M-1 entity which is the MMA promotion company. So officially, M-1 doesn't have a position on the fight on Saturday."
Post-fight, Emelianenko was non-committal about his future.
"I can't really say," the former PRIDE champion said. "I have to sit down with my manager Vadim (Finkelstein) and see what kind of offers and opportunities we've got."
He did, however, point to his daughter's birth as a significant factor in his future, whether that includes fighting or not.
"She was just born, and I'm very fortunate for this gift in my life. With respect to MMA, I just have to think about it and decide what I'm going to do in the future.
"My entire adult life and young life, all I've known is training and fighting and competing. That's something that I very much love continue doing, and I'd still like for that to be a large part of my life. But today, my life, what's first is my faith and my religion, and then my family. That's what I live for. ... My job and what I do for work is secondary behind those two things."
Kogan, who met Emelianenko four years ago on a story assignment for Sherdog.com and later went to work for M-1 Global, seemed to lean toward retirement when he offered his feelings on the fighter's current situation.
Emelianenko still holds a government post in the Belgorod region where his hometown of Stary Oskol is located and could devote more time and energy to the job. With the fighter's devotion to God and family, there are options beyond fighting.
"I personally feel very lucky and blessed that I've had an opportunity to be around who I consider to be the greatest mixed martial artist of all time and whose career I don't think will ever be repeated," he said. "Because I don't think a fighter like that is ever going to come along again. I don't think it's possible given the changing nature of the sport. I think what he did during the time he did it is never going to be repeated.
"It is what it is. The sport is an unforgiving one. I think that nothing is forever, and that's my take on it."
Personal feelings aside, though, Kogan said the decision isn't his to make.
"Everyone eventually loses, and what happens now is up to him," Kogan said. "[Emelianenko] is still one of the best fighters, and I think he could come back and he could beat really good people and be at the top of the sport again. It could happen. Whether or not it does happen, only he and his family know that. Sometime reasonably soon within the next couple of months, the rest of the world will know what his plans are, too.
"If he decides to continue, then I'll be supporting him as a fan, first and foremost."
by John Morgan