I just read an awesome interview Fedor did recently with a Ukrainian site, http://www.pl.com.ua/.  If you clicked that link already you may have noticed one glaring issue I had with it…It isn’t written in English as God intended. I do not speak, nor read, Russian. Luckily, TMR from The UG does, and here is his translation (Warning – this is a long interview but worth the read…if you’re a man!):

In Russian there’s two expressions (the ones I use here are the closest translation I can come up with) that are commonly used one for “no holds barred” (literal translation is “fights without rules”) and one’s “mix fights” (mma equivalent). Most of the people use them as interchangeably, the first question is clarifying just that.

Q: “fights without rules” (nhb), is it really what the expression means – anything goes? Because in reality, there’s quite a few rules. What do you think – are they “soft” or “hard”?

A: In “mixfights” you are not allowed to hit below the belt, you cannot hit the back of the head or the spine. Any  action against the eyes is also forbidden, as well as biting etc. You also cannot hit the back. In reality – there’s quite a few rules. But more importantly are the referees; they are specialists in the ring that are ready to interfere at any moment.

Personally, I’m happy with all of that. The rules are a lot softer than in our sambo. In mixfighting you cannot head butt or hit the groin – which is allowed in combat sambo.

Q: There’s a saying amidst fighters – “the winner’s the first one to hit the chin”…

A: No, it’s not accurate. If the athlete is counting on that… well actually it’s possible, but it is not the right expression. The winner’s the first one to land on the chin yes, but you need to land it. And in order to accurately do that, you must know the strengths of the opponent. And his weaknesses.

Q: What are your weaknesses?

A: I do not talk about my weaknesses, I work on them.

Q: I can imagine how attentively your opponents study your weaknesses…

A: They probably do study them. I obviously do have weaknesses… but… No, I won’t tell them. (laugh).

Q: What about your strengths? Your key strengths?A: I try to improve in all directions, training in all aspects. As far as key strengths… I’ll give you an example:  Mirko Cro Cop. He was destroying everybody with his left foot. He hit with it in a way that people were being knocked out. When he started putting everything on that key strength, he lost.

I believe that a fighter has his favorite techniques, but he cannot focus on just that, instead he should always go forward. So that he can always be unpredictable during the fight. There are fighters that try to focus on their striking technique. There are fighters that try to do anything possible to get the fight to the ground – they all lack well roundedness; they all miss some part of the game.

Chuck Liddell, the ex-LHW champion of the UFC used to always focus more on his striking technique. He also wrestled of course, but always tried to stay away from the ground because he could lose. Randy Couture – lacks submissions and doesn’t have the best striking technique.

Q: Did you have any key fights, specific “enemies”? The kind that would make a new impact on your life? Say Cro Cop, who had knocked out your brother before fighting you (Aleksander Emelianenko also competes in mixfighting).

A: They’re not enemies, they are opponents. Opponents in a sport. I have never had enemies. As far as attacks leading up to a fight, I do not care about them.  It’s a typical custom, to create intrigue leading up to the fight. They are there to create intrigue for the audience. I do not pay attention to that.

Q: How do you feel about your opponents?

A: I respect them.

Q: Without exceptions?

A: Without exceptions.

Q: You are well known abroad, over here – only in the ex-soviet sports world. Outside of these borders you aren’t really a star. Why? Heavyweight boxers for example are quite the characters.A: Our sport is still very young; it has yet to pick up the power that it has abroad. Over there the championships have been going on for a couple of decades. Over here we have a few amateur sports. Combat sambo, hand to hand combat. But as far as professionally – the guys aren’t competing. I know a lot of fans that have been watching the fights in the UFC, “mixed fighting”, they were loving it but… there were no organizers, no organizations and no support. Personally I don’t know how it is over there, but over here if you want to show a good fight on TV, you need money. And not only money, but very serious money. Viewers around the world are interested, but the management of the Russian channels isn’t.

Q: You’ve been living in Stary Oskol ever since your childhood. Typically though, world class fighters try to move say to Germany, or the USA – where they train better and the payouts are bigger…

A: The training isn’t better in neither Germany nor the USA. And the payout does not play a role – the payment is predetermined and where I train does not influence it in any way.

Q: Then why do they leave?

A: <silence>… Because they forget where they are from, and what their flags are.

Q: You clearly do not forget what flags are yours. What are your thoughts on the Ukraine?

A: I always remember that I was born in the Ukraine. My grandmother, my grandfather, my relatives are there. I was born in the USSR, at that point in time the country was not separated. Today we live in different countries, but to me that makes no difference. I consider myself Russian first and foremost. All my childhood and youth I spent in Stary Oskol, I visited my grandparents during the summer. I do not separate the countries, I’m not a politician, it doesn’t matter to me.

Q: But you often wear a t-shirt with the two-headed eagle…

A: Of course, I am a representative of my country. I am proud to be Russian.

Q: What do you think of the “Russian” combat arts? It’s quite popular now to practice “Slavic styles” of combat, or say the “spetznaz combat art”.

A: I think that the only true Russian fighting style (martial art) is sambo. What people call now days “Russian styles” I honestly do not take seriously. I haven’t seen a single strong school with a solid technique; they most commonly look like amateurs. In fact not “most commonly”, it’s actually what they are – amateurs.
Why would you try to come up with something Russian, when you can actually practice something Russian? Another example would be religion, why try to demonstrate Orthodoxy, when you can simply live by the Orthodox way?

Q: When you go out to fight to [Enae Volare Mezzo – video below], you ceremoniously take off your cross and go forth to beat your adversary – sometimes it looks like that epic display has been thought through.

A: I have never had anybody telling me how I should look. And I do not have any people telling me how to look. Stylists or … I don’t even know what they’re called.

Q: Image-makers?

A: Yes, image-makers. I just try to live by my faith, and that’s it.

Q: What about the idea of being in a movie (action movie – the 5th execution), was that yours as well?

A: No, honestly speaking, no. My friends asked me, they were doing shows about our mix fights (about nhb). And Vadik, my manager, asked me.

They wrote up a screenplay, called in the actors and offered me one of the main roles. I was stubborn and didn’t want to do it. But at the same time – it’s very interesting and I wanted to try. I’ve never been in a movie before; I’ve never seen what it’s like. The result is… (Laugh) there is no result yet. The result will be in April. I will probably hide during that period, hide somewhere and not leave my house.

But to be fair, it didn’t look too bad at all. I was very interested in seeing, especially when everything is put together, with the sounds and everything. It all turns out completely different than what you go through. When shooting, you see everything, imagine and think – how can any of this work? Once everything is put together – it seems alright, I think.

Q: Why did you leave the official Russian sport for M-1?

A: I used to compete in Sambo and Judo, and there were issues with the judging. When I was fed up and the lack of objectivity annoyed me too much, I left for mixed martial arts.

Plus in the amateur sports, in Stary Oskol, I had no income. There was no way to support my family. It was obviously a hard choice – I was already on the official Russian teams of Judo and Sambo, and to just leave it all out of nowhere to a new sport and start from scratch… Thank god it all worked out.

Q: Is the judging better?

A: It’s not the same as in the amateur sports. Everything is professional, there’s an audience that watch and control. There are obviously some issues, but nowhere near as bad. There are different examples, but if you have a submission, no matter what, when the opponent yells “I give up!” – there will be no judging. If a person has a KO, they have to raise the winner’s hand. How can you judge a fighter when his opponent is out?..

In the amateur sports we have some very serious problems. In “mixfights” there are fans that are carefully watching over the process, they can’t be fooled. They have their favorites [fighters], by which they stand, and the fairer the judging, the more interesting the fights are for the fans. There’s more respect and the popularity rises.

Q: Still though, among the uneducated fans there are always rumors, that everything is organized. That the promoter told a fighter to “lie down” in round x – and that he does it.

A: In all of my life’s experience I have not encountered that. Not once.
How can there really be a setup, when the majority of our fights end early? Probably ~70% of the fights end that way. You can’t fake a knockout. Well, you obviously could if you tried really hard, but the audience is watching every movement, and then they discuss everything and critique. They cannot be fooled.
And think about it on your own – my payday relies solely on my wins. If I was to “lie down”, I would drop in the rankings and my next fight’s purse would be a lot smaller.

Besides, our sport is still only developing: for it to be interesting we must be unbiased. Of course, I want our guys to win – Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, sure. But if a fighter comes from France, for example, and he hits well – then he will win. It’s very fair/honest.

Q: Why is the situation so sad in the official sport?

A: Because the people standing behind our sport are not fans of it, instead they are people with their own personal interests. They would rather have their boy go forward, than to have a stronger guy from another town, it’s always better for them to have one of their own judges than to have an independent one. Better to do an easier draw [as in draw in a tournament bracket] for their guy, so that he gets to the finals in good shape, and to throw the serious competition into the other side, so that they can fight between each other, tire each other out and get there exhausted.
They put their own personal interests over those of the country… of the sport… Do you understand?

Q: Why aren’t they leaving that and not transitioning over to “mixfights”?

A: Because, just like it was for me, it’s very difficult. In my situation I had absolutely no choice: in all of the Russian championships I was always third-third-third… In our sport the first place always goes to the “world” competitions, the second – to “Europe’s”. I was always third. I was tired and was asking them if they had a conscience at all, I’m fighting, and the entire room’s yelling at the judge – “what are you watching?”… I couldn’t get through, so I left. But it was very hard. Leaving everything I live for, everything I had accomplished. It maybe wasn’t that much, but the Russian team – was a good result. I was on both the Russian Judo and the Russian Sambo team. I consider that a good result for an athlete.
I had to leave all of that and start from scratch.

Q: Do you stay in touch with the official Russian sport?

A: They are now offering me some important positions, other things… I decline. I do not see the possibility in working on that, as I am competing myself. I try to talk with people that are really cheering for their work, for their sport. With them – I talk, what’s next, what should I do. If I’m asked by the other people, not the ones who do not care about the sport, and if they need a Flag of “Fedor Emelianenko” so that they can wave it and use it to plug the holes, the ones that are trying to change something and raise the status of our sport. If they ask – I will gladly go.

How can anyone dislike this guy? He is such a cool mutha….


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