M-1 tried to down play this by not translating a key sentence during last week's press conference, but it appears that Fedor Emelianenko is openly mulling retirement, per MMA Mania. As Sergio Non wrote at USA TODAY, signs point toward the end of the road for the Russian legend:
Enjoy him while you can. The 33-year-old Emelianenko suggested that his enthusiasm for competition is waning -- Friday's media chat included a Russian comment not conveyed by his interpreter on the call, but later translated by a couple of websites.MMA Mania's version:
We have two fights left with Strikeforce, and assuming everything goes well, I don't see any reason why we wouldn't continue the relationship. But I am considering retirement more and more often now. I'd like to finish out my contract without any losses and then just see what God has planned for me.
He also mentioned that he would not enter politics as long as he competes in mixed martial arts. His name recently appeared on a party primary ballot for regional political office, although M-1 rejected any notion of retirement in the near term for its marquee fighter.
Dana White has apparently thrown in the towel on ever signing Fedor to the UFC, per 790 the Ticket in Miami (via SportsRadioInterviews.com) via MMA Mania:
"[Co-promotion with them] will never happen in a million years. [Strikeforce is] a minor league. Listen I have come to the realization and everyone else needs to too that Fedor (Emelianenko) doesn't want to fight the best guys in the world. Believe me when I tell you guys I have done everything in my power, I have flown to crazy parts of the world, done all this stuff, been on the phone for hours, not hung out with my kids on weekends because I'm on the phone with these lunatics and just can't make the deal. They don't want to do it so we gotta get over it."
Frankly if Fedor has decided he doesn't want to fight for the UFC, retiring after completing his current contract with Strikeforce is a perfectly honorable way to end his career. If I hold out any hope for Fedor doing more than fighting Werdum and Overeem, it would be that he go out on NYE in Japan against Josh Barnett. But I'm giving up on seeing him in the UFC.
Fans can't really ask any more of the man.
He's already gone essentially undefeated for more than a decade. He's faced, and beaten, the best fighters of his generation -- Nogueira, Cro Cop, Coleman, Arlovski, Tim Sylvia, et al. He ruled the PRIDE heavyweight division with an iron hand for the greater part of the decade, a period when PRIDE indisputably had the best heavyweights in the game.
Let's just consider his Strikeforce sojourn a victory tour for American fans. He'll have his hands full with Werdum and Overeem -- as would any heavyweight in the world -- and if he beats them, his legacy is secure.
Would I like to see him face Brock Lesnar/Shane Carwin/Cain Velasquez/Junior Dos Santos? Sure. But Fedor doesn't owe it to us to fight for an organization he "doesn't like" and that he feels "tried to ****" him. As he said at the press conference last week (per MMA Fighting):
"I'm not a UFC fan," he said through his interpreter, Steve Bash.
"What I meant to say was, I'm not a fan of watching their fights," he said. "Compared to the commercials, the promotion and anticipation of their fights and the shows I've seen, there seems to be a negativity in a lot of their shows, so I'm just not a fan of watching their programs.
"In some ways how the fights are presented, and the manner that they're presented." he continued. "Also, in some ways, the actions and behavior of some of the fighters in the UFC. It takes away from the sport."
Fedor's never made grand claims for himself, doesn't consider himself the best in the world, and doesn't owe fans a darn thing. He's delivered the most storied and honorable career in MMA history. If that's all he wants to give us, so be it.