Despite being sentenced to 4.5 years for sexual assault in 2015, Alexander Emelianenko could potentially return to the ring before the end of 2016.
According to Interfax.ru, the younger brother of MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko will be released from prison three years early on parole for “good behavior.” Instead, he will be forced to complete “two years and 23 days of correctional labor with a 10% deduction of the convict’s salary going to the state.”
"The court granted the petition for early release filed by my client," said Emelianenko’s lawyer, Kakhaben Dolbadze. He added that the athlete is still in a penal colony in the Voronezh region awaiting his actual release.
The former PRIDE fighter was convicted of sexual assault, "kidnapping" by withholding a passport, and the forced use of "narcotic drugs or psychotropic substances" on 27-year-old Polina Stepanova. Emelianenko allegedly stole his substitute housekeeper's passport from her purse while she was cleaning the house and extorted her for sexual favours, while forcing her to consume narcotics. The fighter was sentenced to 4.5 years despite pleading not guilty to all the charges levied against him and claiming that all dealings with the victim were "consensual."
The victim later met with members of the media and revealed that Emelianenko had damaged her life beyond repair. She filed a police report prior to the court hearings but continued to suffer harassment from Emelianenko's friends, according to her lawyer.
Emelianenko compiled a 20-4 record during nine years of MMA competition. He fought for the likes of Pride FC and M-1 Global. He last competed in 2012 at M-1 Challenge 35, where he won his fourth consecutive fight for the Russian organization. Scandalous behavior and a Hepatitis C diagnosis made him a controversial fighter to maintain on a roster. Despite his past, Emelianenko’s lawyer released a Facebook statement following the judicial decision to release Alexander that implored the troubled fighter to return to his chosen career.
"I hope he learned the right lessons from the difficult situation. He has revised his views on standards of conduct in society. And, with the dignity of a true champion, will rise after a knockout. Today he should be released on parole, and I wish him to throw out his incredible power only in a sports ring, praising the strength of character and the Russian sport!"
Emelianenko is unlikely to have much trouble getting a fight in 2016, as Eurasian Fight Nights promoter Kamil Gadzhiev already revealed interest in signing him. Given that EFN is featured on UFC Fight Pass, the decision to host a convicted rapist’s return fight is questionable at best.
Listen to Karim Zidan discuss Alexander Emelianenko’s return and its implications on the Russian MMA scene here.