Fedor Emelianenko Through the Years

Fedor Vladimirovich Emelianenko was born on September 28, 1976. He was born in the city of Rubizhne, Luhansk Oblast, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union.

Fedor Emelianenko (on the right) in childhood with his brother Alexander

When he was two years old, his family relocated inside the Soviet Union to Stary Oskol. His father Vladimir Alexandrovich was a welder, and his mother Olga Fedorovna was a teacher.

Emelianenko started learning sambo and judo when he was 11 years old under Vasily Ivanovich Gavrilov. A year later, he enrolled for lessons under coach Vladimir Voronov. According to Voronov, Emelianenko initially did not distinguish himself from his contemporaries but would go on to succeed in the future because of his own tenacity and years of dedication.

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Emelianenko graduated from high school in 1991. He served in the Russian Army from 1995 to 1997 as a military fireman before joining the tank division close to Nizhny Novgorod.

Emelianenko earned the certification of ‘Master of Sport’ in judo and sambo in 1997. He joined the Russian national team as well.

Emelianenko quit the Russian national team in 2000 and started competing professionally in mixed martial arts because of a lack of funds.

Emelianenko got his start in mixed martial arts as a member of Russian Top Team (RTT). This is where he received instruction from more experienced combatants like Volk Han and Andrei Kopylov.

Following their match with Gary Goodridge, the Emelianenko brothers quit the Russian Top Team and started working out with Vadim Finkelchtein’s Red Devil Sport Club in St. Petersburg. Finkelchtein remained his manager up to his first retirement in the middle of 2012.


Emelianenko expressed his desire to compete against Bobby Hoffman for the World Heavyweight Class Championship. But Hoffman backed out of the bout with Emelianenko, claiming shoulder injury he received in his prior match. Since Hoffman forfeited, Emelianenko received the victory and the RINGS Heavyweight Class Championship by default.


Emelianenko made his Pride Fighting Championships debut in June 2002 against Dutch competitor Semmy Schilt. He ended up defeating him via unanimous decision.

Emelianenko was scheduled to compete against the widely popular Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira at Pride 25. The two would compete in March 2003 for the Pride Heavyweight Championship.

Nogueira had just defeated Mark Coleman, Heath Herring, and Bob Sapp. Additionally, he had also won the RINGS 2000 King of Kings Tournament. A lot of fans thought Nogueira was nearly invincible because of his stamina and ability to submit.

However, Emelianenko ended up dominating him and won the match via unanimous decision. He was declared the second Pride Heavyweight Champion.

At Pride Total Elimination 2003, Emelianenko competed against Gary Goodridge. He defeated Goodridge via TKO in the first round.

During the bout, Emelianenko broke his hand, and it needed surgery. He then re-injured this hand, which forced him to postpone multiple matches.

Emelianenko competed against Kevin Randleman, a former UFC Heavyweight Champion and two-time Division I NCAA wrestling champion for Ohio State University. Randleman executed a German suplex as Emelianenko offered his back, sending him to the ground headfirst. This move would go down as one of the most often replayed moments in PRIDE and MMA history for years to come.

A few seconds later, Emelianenko appeared unconcerned. He overpowered Randleman and forced him to submit with a kimura armlock at 1:33 into the first round.

At PRIDE Final Conflict 2005, Emelianenko and Cro Cop eventually squared off. Two hard punches from Cro Cop surprised Emelianenko in the first round and shattered his nose. Emelianenko was able to take the match to the ground and score body blows. Emelianenko ended up winning the match via unanimous decision.

At Shockwave 2006, Emelianenko faced Mark Hunt in his last Pride Heavyweight championship defence. Emelianenko used a kimura to force Hunt to submit at 8:16 of the first round.

There were rumours that Emelianenko would compete in the UFC following the purchase of Pride Fighting Championships by Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta III. UFC president Dana White stated his desire to sign Emelianenko but believed that his management team was the main obstacle. He said that Emelianenko’s first UFC bout would be a unification match against heavyweight champion Randy Couture. But discussions failed and in October 2007, Emelianenko signed a two-year and six-match contract with M-1 Global.



Fedor Emelianenko competed against former two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion Tim Sylvia on July 19 at ‘Affliction: Banned’. Sylvia was considered to be one of the best heavyweight combatants in MMA.

In only 36 seconds, Emelianenko beat Sylvia. He knocked him out with a series of rapid punches, grabbed his back, and then submitted him with a rear naked choke to end the match.

UFC President Dana White made many attempts to get Emelianenko to sign an exclusive UFC deal after the failure of Affliction. Emelianenko would also be given an instant title challenge against Brock Lesnar, the current UFC Heavyweight Champion.

White reportedly offered Emelianenko a contract worth just under 2 million US dollars per match, with incentives to make much more based on pay per view revenues for matches he headlined. Negotiations broke down when Emelianenko’s management team insisted on a co-promotion between the UFC and M-1 Global, terms that White deemed unacceptable.

Emelianenko inked a deal with Strikeforce after the breakdown of his talks with the UFC. In November 2009, Emelianenko made his Strikeforce debut against Brett Rogers. Emelianenko ended up winning the match via TKO in the second round.

Emelianenko lost to Fabrcio Werdum in June 2010. It was his first defeat in ten years. Emelianenko closed in on Werdum after throwing him to the ground early in the first round. But Werdum got him in a deep triangle and an armbar from his guard, forcing Fedor to submit.

It was revealed in January 2011 that Fedor had consented to compete in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix against Antônio Silva. Silva took charge in round 2. He passed to mount and then launched into a flurry of ground and pound. This led Emelianenko’s eyes to swell, almost shut. Emelianenko’s eye condition caused the ringside medical staff to request time out.

In July 2011, Emelianenko competed against Dan Henderson. Fedor used a flurry of punches to send Henderson to the ground after both boxers delivered heavy blows in the first round.

Fedor followed Henderson to the mat and started to ground and pound him, but Henderson was able to sweep and switch places with him. Henderson then landed a punch beneath Fedor’s armpit that sent Fedor tumbling face-first to the mat and knocked him out.

Emelianenko allegedly left Strikeforce after suffering his third consecutive defeat.

During the broadcast of Bellator 165, Emelianenko signed a contract with Bellator MMA.

In April 2018, Emelianenko competed against former UFC Heavyweight Champion Frank Mir at Bellator 198. In the first round, Emelianenko won the match via TKO.

In 2018, he competed against Chael Sonnen in Bellator 208’s semifinals. Emelianenko ended up winning the match via TKO in the first round.

Emelianenko and Ryan Bader squared off in the championship match for the vacant Bellator Heavyweight World Championship at Bellator 214 on January 26, 2019. Within the first 35 seconds, he was knocked out.

In December 2019, Emelianenko faced Quinton Jackson in a co-produced Bellator and Rizin event in Japan. In round one, he used a technical knockout to win the match.

Emelianenko married Oksana in 1999, whom he had known since high school. The couple had a daughter Masha in the same year. However, the couple divorced in 2006.

Five Facts You Didnt Know About Russian MMA Legend Fedor Emelianenko

His longtime partner Marina welcomed his second daughter Vasilisa in December 2007. In October 2009, Marina and Emelianenko were wed. Elizaveta, their second daughter was born in July 2011.

Emelianenko married his first spouse in February 2014.