Russian Mixed Martial Art (MMA) fighter Fedor Emelianenko hinted at a possible retirement, saying his age might force him to think about withdrawing from the fighting rings by the end of this month.
Emelianenko told Russian sports news outlet Sport24 on Thursday that the final decision on whether he will end his professional career or schedule more fights will be known after the upcoming encounter with the American fighter Ryan Bader on January 27.
“This can only be talked about after the battle. We'll see,” the 43-year-old fighter told Sport24, adding he still has hesitations about what to do next. “Of course, I think about it [retirement]. The point is not that I do not want to fight. But age is already making itself felt.”
The Grand Prix fight between Emelianenko and Bader for the Bellator Heavyweight Champion belt will be held on January 27 in Los Angeles. Bader will be the third American to face off against the Russian, after Emelianenko battled against Frank Mir and Chael Sonnen in this year's Bellator 214 tournaments.
Bellator MMA is a leading mixed martial art and kickboxing organization featuring many of the best fighters in the world. Bellator fights are watched by around one billion people worldwide in over 160 countries.
Emelianenko’s words about his retirement is not a bolt from the blue. The legendary Russian fighter, nicknamed “The Last Emperor” and who has 38 wins and only five losses in his professional MMA record, had announced his retirement in 2012 following his victory against Brazilian fighter Pedro Rizzo in Moscow. At the time Emelianenko said his family was persuading him to wind down his career.
But in 2015, Emelianenko was back in the ring as part of the RIZIN New Year fight show in Japan. Since then, he regularly participates in various MMA tournaments.