Fedor Vladimirovich Emelianenko (Russian: Фёдор Влади́мирович Емелья́ненко, tr. Fyodor Vladimirovich Yemelyanenko, IPA: [ˈfʲɵdər vlɐˈdʲimʲɪrəvʲɪtɕ jɪmʲɪˈlʲjænʲɪnkə]) (born 28 September 1976) is a Russian heavyweight mixed martial artist (MMA), sambist, and judoka, currently competing for Rizin Fighting Federation and Bellator MMA. He has won championships and accolades in multiple sports, most notably in MMA Pride Fighting Championships (heavyweight champion 2003-2007), FIAS World Combat Sambo Championship (Heavyweight Champion 2002, 2005, 2007), and Russian Judo Federation National Championship (Bronze medal 1998, 1999).
Emelianenko began his MMA career on May 21, 2000, with four straight victories, including a win over ADCC champion Ricardo Arona, which is considered one of his toughest fights in his career. Then came a controversial loss to Tsuyoshi Kohsaka on December 22, 2000. In his next 28 fights up until June 26, 2010 Emelianenko was unbeaten, including wins over four former UFC champions, one Pride FC champion, one former and two future K-1 champions, and two Olympic medalists. During this period he defeated eleven top-10 ranked fighters (two of them twice), in addition to winning a rematch against Kohsaka.
Emelianenko has earned numerous MMA accolades over the years, including; 2008 Submission/Beatdown of the Year awards, 2009 Knockout of the Year awards, Heavyweight of the Year awards, Fighter of the Year awards and 2000s Fight of the Decade awards. Sports Illustrated, among other publications, named him the top MMA fighter of the decade. He is widely considered to have had the best ground-and-pound in the history of the sport. In addition he has been regarded for his wide ranging skills in various aspects of MMA, with MMA analyst Jack Slack writing "Very few men can claim to have Olympic alternate level judo and still able to out-strike the best kickboxer in MMA history". Sports and MMA media, ESPN, Bleacher Report, Sherdog, SB Nation (mmafighting) and Fight Matrix, list him as the greatest MMA Heavyweight fighter of all time. Emelianenko is also the longest reigning Heavyweight lineal champion and #1 pound for pound ranked fighter in MMA history. Former combat sports fighters Chuck Norris and Mike Tyson; current MMA fighters such as Junior dos Santos, Fabrício Werdum, and Jose Aldo; and other publications have called Emelianenko the greatest mixed martial artist of all time. MMA referee John McCarthy, sports commentator Michael Schiavello and others, have compared Emelianenko's impact and legacy in MMA to the likes of Muhammad Ali, Pele, Wayne Gretzky, and their legacies in their respective sports.
Between June 26, 2010 and June 21, 2012, Emelianenko suffered three consecutive losses, to top-10 ranked Heavyweight fighters Fabrício Werdum and Antônio Silva and, then reigning Strikeforce Light Heavyweight champion, Dan Henderson, followed by three consecutive wins against former ADCC champion Jeff Monson, former Olympic medalist Satoshi Ishii and former UFC Heavyweight contender Pedro Rizzo. Emelianenko retired from fighting after the Rizzo fight, and became acting president of the Russian MMA Union. He is currently also a staff member of Russia's Presidential Council on Physical Fitness & Sports (2012 – present), and a deputy at Belgorod Regional Duma (2010 – present).
On July 14, 2015, after a three year hiatus from mixed martial arts, Emelianenko announced that he will be returning to active competition and has started training immediately. He was in negotiations with the Ultimate Fighting Championship and Bellator MMA. In a statement released through his management, Emelianenko added that he has retired from his position at the Russian Ministry of Sport, and will put all attention toward his comeback. He announced during Bellator MMA & Glory: Dynamite 1 that he had signed a two fight deal with former PRIDE executive Nobuyuki Sakakibara to compete for newly created promotion in Japan, named Rizin Fighting Federation.