Devil's in the Details Says Fedor's Striking Trainer
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia, July 18 -- In the first of several
interviews focusing on the Red Devil fight team, most notably
(Pictures), Sherdog.com spoke with the
group's striking trainer, Alexander Vasilievich Michkov on
The boxing coach comments on all things Fedor; Red Devils competing
this weekend in the M-1 card in St. Petersburg, Russia; and quite a
bit more, including UFC president Dana White's dealings with "crazy
What is your own
I'm a Rossiyskyi
Master of Sport in boxing; it will not mean much in the West, but
it is a big achievement in amateur boxing. After my own career I
taught children's and youth boxing. I have trained many successful
boxers, including European champion Michail Gallo.
Has Aleksander Emelianenko
(Pictures) been a part of the training
camp for Red Devil fighters in preparation for the M1 Event on July
Yes, Sanya has been on a regular
training schedule with us, at Olympic Dreams. Unlike most of the
other fighters who are based at Olympic Dreams, he lives with his
family, also here in St. Petersburg, and participates in all
training sessions with the team.
What was the reason behind
Gilbert Yvel (Pictures) pulling out of the event?
We were not told specifically what
the injury was, who knows what it could have been.
When were you informed of
On Thursday the 12th of July, a
week and a half before the fight.
Are you concerned about
Aleksander's opponent on Saturday?
Yes I am. I have to say I am
concerned. That's just me. I prefer to know as much as I can about
a fighter, and all we know about Jesse Gibson is his height, weight
and that he has a karate background and is from Holland. I like to
have tape on a fighter.
Is Aleksander concerned
about Jesse Gibson?
No. Aleksander doesn't care in the
least who his opponent is.
What kind of support will
Fedor give to the Red Devil fighters who are competing on Saturday
Fedya will stop by each fighter's
dressing room to give them the "champions word" of support and
Who is responsible for
coming up with the strategy for each of the fighters' upcoming
The two trainers, myself [Alexander
Vasilievich Michkov] and Vladimir Mihailovich Voronin
[wrestling/grappling trainer] and the fighter. It's completely
logical; we look for our strong points that we can use to exploit
their weak points. There is nothing more fancy than that.
Given that all fighters
are different -- some are mentally very prepared and relaxed going
into a fight, others are less so -- what kind of psychological
assistance does the training staff provide for Red Devil
Mihailich [Vladimir Mihailovich
Voronin] will speak to some fighters, say a few words in a
particular direction then tell me so I can support him, when I
speak to them myself. I will do the same. Basically we know what
each fighter needs psychologically to perform at their best, and
will work together to try to bring that out.
There is a big difference
in the facilities and equipment that fighters use in the U.S. and
Russia. What is the mentality behind the simplicity of the Russian
We do not have enough money.
(laughs) We are simple and clean because it's what we have to work
with; we must think of the most advantageous means to use what is
available. That makes us strong, adaptable, train harder. Because
we think it may be a disadvantage, it's extra motivation. Even
though we would like some fancy equipment I'll never understand
treadmills. They are stupid. Fedor and the rest of our fighters
prefer the street. At least there are distractions. Nature as they
say is always more tasty. A treadmill I think is just
What kind of training is
Fedor currently undertaking since he is not specifically preparing
for a bout?
Fedya has his own training regimen
that is Fedor's [and I won't go into]. It does consist of running
at least 15 kilometres per day.
When did you begin
I started training Fedya in 2002, I
How did you start training
Mihailich [Vladimir Mihailovich
Voronin] suggested to Fedor that for hands he needed another coach
and suggested he approach me. We discussed working together and I
took him on.
What was Fedor's boxing
like when you started with him?
Initially when we started he was
basically self-taught in boxing. He would practice with punching
bags or sparring partners and develop his own technique. At the
same time, as we started he also started training striking with the
Russian Top Team [Sergei
Kharitonov (Pictures)'s team]. I adjusted his technique
slightly, but did not need to change it completely.
Fedor's boxing technique
is not typical of traditional boxing. Is this due to his own
adaptation or specific strategies?
If you look carefully, it is
standard, formal boxing technique. Sometimes it changes slightly,
but I train him in standard boxing technique.
Do you also train Fedor on
his striking on the ground techniques (his ground-and-pound)?
No striking on the ground is
Fedya's own invention. Around 95 percent is him working out over a
long period of time exactly what to do, how to be mostly effective.
I might offer small tips for how to improve slightly but it is
almost entirely his brainchild.
What makes Fedor who he
He is a thinking fighter. His
intelligence, and ability to think differentiates him. He is very
smart. He always listens to us [trainers]. About 50 percent of
fighters do not listen to trainers, or pretend they do but it comes
right out of the other ear. They don't necessarily think they know
better than us, but their own status blinds them sometimes. A
fighter will continue to grow and achieve ever-higher goals, as
long as they listen to their trainer. Fighters who stop listening
to their trainers will remain on the same level and eventually
start dropping. That is why Fedor will keep improving indefinitely.
Another illustration of this is the way Fedya fights. In the ring
he hears everything we [trainers] yell at him. Often less
intelligent fighters can only think of their immediate fear of
their opponent and are oblivious to their corner during each round.
Fedya can hear everything we say and follows instructions.
Mihailich [Vladimir Mihailovich Voronin] has a voice like a
bullhorn, he hears him. I am quieter and he still hears everything
I say. We take turns: I yell instructions if the fight is on the
feet, Mihailich if it's on the ground. He [Fedor] will come back to
the corner in the break between rounds and tell us that he heard
everything and thank us for the help.
Is there anything else
from his intelligence that makes Fedor the fighter he is? It is
widely known that as a youngster he didn't display particularly
impressive athletic prowess.
That's true. He didn't spare
himself then and he doesn't spare himself now. He plows and plows.
He just works very, very hard. He consistently pushes himself. He
also never trains for the sake of training. He doesn't lift
dumbbells stupidly just in order to lift heavier, or build bigger
muscles. If he is using dumbbells he will be thinking with each rep
of the muscle that is being worked on and the advantage of working
on it, like increased speed for punching.
What did you think when
(Pictures) suplexed Fedor onto his
I was not so much thinking as
having a heart attack. Fedor says that everything was fine, he was
aware of absolutely everything as it was happening and was not
concerned about his health. Then when I saw that Fedya was OK I
reacted by telling him to just punch Kevin and keep punching. If
you count them, Fedor throws 32 punches, because I am yelling at
him to do it, as I want to end it as quickly as possible.
Are the Emelianenko
brothers -- Fedor, Aleksander and Ivan -- similar at all?
No, they are all completely
different from each other. Completely.
Do you think that
Aleksander and Ivan can aspire to the same heights that Fedor has
If they train hard enough and
believe in themselves, yes. They are both gifted physically. They
just need determination and the desire to reach those heights.
What do you think of (UFC
president) Dana White's comments in a recent interview about the
deal being difficult to finalise because the UFC is dealing with
They can say what they like. The
Americans and Russians have never seen eye to eye, don't see eye to
eye now and will probably never in the future.
What did you particularly
like about PRIDE?
The thing that stands out most is
the stand-ups that were performed by the referees after a short
period of time with no action. No one likes a long running ground
fight; it's not easily televised, not interesting to watch. Those
interested on drawn out ground fights can watch wrestling. The
Japanese fans like our fighters -- Fedor, Aleksander and Amar
[Suolev] -- as they were exciting to watch.
Which is easier to fight
in, in your opinion: the ring or the cage?
The cage. You can lean against the
fence and use it more to your advantage. There is also more room to
move, utilising both defensive and offensive strategies. The cage
is definitely my preferred choice.
Which rules do you think
suit Fedor better? The rules in PRIDE or the North American unified
It does not make any difference to
Fedor which rules he fights under.
Do you not think that the
Unified Rules, and specifically their allowance for the use of
elbows, is concerning as Fedor has been cut previously on a number
Yes, elbows are concerning in this
respect. It is certainly a lot easier to inflict cuts on your
opponent with elbows. However Fedor is prepared for all
eventualities. Elbows do not overly concern him.
If you were looking back
on Fedor's career from 10 years in the future, whom would you say
he'd have to fight to ensure that he retains his legacy as the best
heavyweight of all time?
Whom he fights in the future is
Who makes the decisions
whether to take or pass up fights?
Management, trainers and the
fighters themselves. A number of factors go into this decision.
With Fedor (who has suffered injuries) in the last few years, we
have had to refuse an opponent on occasion because they were not a
good match-up for the particular injury that Fedor was inflicted
with at the time.
What do you think of
Randy Couture (Pictures)?
He is incredible. I think he is
fantastic and fantastically smart to be how he is at his age. And I
wish that everybody could be the same when they are 43.
What do you think of the
Cro Cop vs. Gonzaga match?
I think Cro Cop came out for a
stroll. He wasn't ready; he thought it would be a walk over. And
Gonzaga came out determined to take the match. Cro Cop was not
ready for the elbows. I think that fighting as soon as he is after
such a knockout is unadvisable. He should be playing with his kids
for sixth months letting his brain recover. That's not my opinion,
that's the standard medical opinion on such powerful knockouts.
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