At this point Fedor Emelianenko has been a legend for longer than he was an elite fighter. The man who once owned one of MMA’s most impressive unbeaten streaks, who wreaked havoc over in PRIDE, who became the first truly dominant heavyweight in MMA history Emelianenko seemingly rode out the last of his glory days in Strikeforce all the way back in 2009-11 before going on a prolonged tour fighting yesterday’s stars in M-1, Bellator, and other smaller regional promotions.
All things considered, it’s a testament to Emelianenko’s management and his crazy athletic skills that he stayed a dangerous and winning heavyweight well into his 40s—even if he wasn’t winning his biggest fights anymore. That said Emelianenko’s recent announcement on the MMA Hour still feels like a bit of a surprise.
Fedor Emelianenko wants to box Mike Tyson
Thankfully, it doesn’t sound like the ‘Last Emperor’ is running back to MMA, but the 47-year-old former PRIDE champion still has some goals left in the combat sports world after hanging up his spurs back in Feburary—on the heels of a second TKO loss to Bellator heavyweight champ Ryan Bader. Namely, like so many longtime cage-fighting talents these days, Emelianenko wants to test himself in the boxing ring.
“MMA is done, 100 percent,” Emelianenko said. “I’m not going back to MMA. I want to try myself in boxing. I think that’s going to be interesting.
“After the last fight with Bader, I took a break. I started lifting weights a little bit, got some muscles back so my injuries are going away, so my shoulder feels better a little bit, and I started boxing, so I feel pretty good and pretty confident in boxing.”
As for just who he’d like to box? Emelianenko liked what he saw from Mike Tyson in his recent exhibition with Roy Jones Jr. If he could get a bout with ‘Iron Mike’ on the undercard of Tyson Fury’s bout with Francis Ngannou in Saudi Arabia this October, that sounds like it would be a dream fight.
“We watched the fight on TV of Roy Jones Jr. vs. Mike Tyson. Mike Tyson would be an interesting fight,” Emelianenko said, adding that a bout with Tyson on the Ngannou/Fury card would be “awesome.” “He has a big name, he’s a legend. … It would be interesting because you can see a lot of his videos on YouTube and all over the place, he’s still in good shape. He still works pads, he still has that same power.”
“I always train,” he explained, as to his own readiness to take a fight in the near future. “There was a camp right now in Russia. I was there. I’m always ready. I heard that Mike Tyson is going to help Francis Ngannou to prepare for this fight, so he’s probably in good shape too.”
Mike Tyson is not going to fight Fedor
I don’t know if there’s ever been a point in time where this fight would have made any sense. Tyson was already well past his competitive peak by the time Fedor made his pro MMA debut in May of 2000, while Fedor didn’t rise to his status as a prominent force in MMA until his fights with Big Nog in 2004. But, with Tyson creeping up on 60 and Fedor creeping up on 50, it feels like it makes even less sense now.
Even as long ago as 2012 Tyson talked about his love of watching Fedor fight, and how he didn’t want to see the Russian take any more damage inside the cage.
“Fedor Emelianenko, my favorite of all time,” Tyson said in an interview with Inside MMA. “He’s always been the underdog, he’s always the smallest guy and he always comes out victorious. He just stayed around too long in the age of high performance [-enhancing] drugs, bigger athletes. I’ve just never seen an athlete like him, as far as a fighting athlete, that beat the odds so many times.
“From a guy that just loves him from a human perspective, I don’t want to see him get hurt anymore, you know? He didn’t get hurt, but those guys could have hurt him, the big guy that was hitting him, “Bigfoot” (Antonio Silva). I don’t like to see that. A guy that’s been in there so long, and he’s not the same as he used to be and you see him getting beat up, oh man that’s a bad feeling.”
Fedor went on to fight a whole hell of a lot after those losses Tyson was talking about, and did end up getting hurt several times in the process. A decade worth of time, wear, and age, hasn’t made the prospects of seeing him take a bout in an entirely different striking sport feel any more palatable. Which is to say nothing of the damage that Tyson has suffered over the years or the realities of him getting back in the ring at 57-years-old. From the sound of things, just the prep for his bout against Roy Jones Jr. back in 2020 but ‘Iron Mike’ through sheer hell.
“Well, it’s really painful. Really painful,” Tyson said of his training for RJJ. “And from this experience right now, I’ll never call another fighter a bum again, because anybody that does this or attempts to do this is no bum.
“My kids think I should sit my old ass down, but what do they know? You know? I’m very confident. They don’t know how to fight. Neither one of my kids can beat me in a fight, so what are they talking about?”
After the fight was done and dusted, his interest in a future return to the ring seemingly took a nose dive.
“I’m not even interested in doing this stuff,” he added. “It was just fun at first. If it was back when I first started, yes, and we were both fighting on the same card and both active, yeah, we could do it. But it just turned … it just turned bad. It didn’t turn out right.”
“Every, they say it’s 10, but it’s like every 12, or 13 months … boom, something’s missing,” Tyson said. “Like something’s missing. I give it to … boom, I’m losing muscle mass. Boom, it’s something. It’s always something different. And I don’t know, I’m just … guys want to fight me for 100 million bucks. I don’t think I’ll ever do stuff like that anymore.”
All that said, Roy Jones Jr. just returned to action as a professional boxer again this year, losing a majority decision to former UFC lightweight champion Anthony Pettis at a Gamebred Boxing event in Milwaukee, WI back in April. If Fedor’s adamant about making his debut in the ring, that might be a fight he could get.
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