Scott Coker (pictured; file photo) says Fedor Emelianenko will fight again. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Immediately after his Feb. 12 loss to Antonio Silva, the future seemed uncertain for Fedor Emelianenko. In a post-fight interview, the legendary Russian heavyweight hinted that his second loss in 12 months and elimination from Strikeforce’s highly publicized heavyweight grand prix may have brought an end to his storied career.
Shortly after returning to his homeland, however, “The Last Emperor” eased up on the retirement talk, declaring his intention to fight again and possibly even reenter the Strikeforce tournament. Now, Emelianenko appears to have a target date for his return to the newly Zuffa-acquired Strikeforce cage.
“Fedor’s gonna fight sometime in July,” Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker told the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” on Wednesday. “It’s probably toward the end of July or mid-July, but we have fights with Fedor that we’re gonna honor and continue forward. We’re gonna do the co-branding exercise that we do with M-1 every time we do fights with them.”
“The opponent has not been chosen, but I think having Fedor involved close to the tournament as an alternate is definitely a possibility,” he added.
Asked whether Emelianenko is on a fight-by-fight basis with Strikeforce despite being contracted for three more bouts, Coker stated that the decision is in the hands of the Russian and could depend on the result of his next outing.
“You gotta perform. I think he did a good job against Silva, and that worked out the way he did, but he’s still a competitive fighter that can compete at the highest level on any given Saturday night,” said Coker. “I think this next one’s gonna be very important. He’s gonna have to perform.”
Widely considered the greatest fighter in mixed martial arts history, the 34-year-old Emelianenko went undefeated from April 2001 to June 2010. During that span, he racked up 27 wins and became heavyweight king of Japan’s Pride Fighting Championships organization, defeating such luminaries as Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Mirko Filipovic. Emelianenko’s streak was snapped last June in a shocking first-round submission loss to Fabricio Werdum, and his February return saw him battered by Silva en route to a second-round doctor stoppage.
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 43:40) with Coker.