The world’s greatest pound for pound fighter Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko, top-ranked Brazilian superstar Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum and STRIKEFORCE CEO Scott Coker participated in a national media conference call to discuss the highly anticipated showdown in the main event of a STRIKEFORCE and M-1 GLOBAL co-promoted Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fight card at HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. on Saturday, June 26, live on SHOWTIME® at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).
The event will mark the first time in MMA history that the No. 1 male and female fighters in the world will step into the cage on the same night. Fedor, long considered the world’s top pound for pound fighter, will share the spotlight with female wrecking machine Cris Cyborg, who will defend her STRIKEFORCE Women’s World Middleweight (145 pound) Championship against Jan “Cuddles” Finney.
M-1 GLOBAL’s Fedor will look to gain revenge three and a half years after the 32-year-old Werdum, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, defeated Fedor’s brother Aleksander, via submission (arm triangle choke) in the first round (3:24) of a bout in 2006.
Simply referred to as “Fedor” by millions of fans around the world, the 6-foot, 235 pound Russian has become the most dominant MMA fighter of all-time since he began his professional career 10 years ago.
During an eight-year tenure in MMA, Werdum has conquered a number of other superstars, including reigning STRIKEFORCE World Heavyweight Champion, Alistair “The Demolition Man” Overeem, Antonio “Big Foot” Silva and UFC stars Gabriel Gonzaga and Brandon “The Truth” Vera.
Here are some highlights of what the fighters and Coker had to say on Friday.
“I’m very happy to be back and fighting in the United States. I’m honored to be fighting Fabricio Werdum and I expect a great fight on June 26.
“It does not matter that he has a victory over my brother. I feel no vengeance because of that. I plan on fighting for myself and for my country.”
Why do most of the fighters who have fought Fedor end up losing the next time they fight?
“I don’t think that the fighters defeat themselves before they get into the cage with me. I think that from my experience the fighters I have fought have all trained hard and come in prepared. As far as how they do in their next fight, I don’t feel there is any mystique or mystery to it. I just think that every person is different on how they handle defeat and how they handle their career.”
What does your future hold with Strikeforce?
“I don’t want to look too far ahead. Right now I’m just looking forward to this fight with Fabricio Werdum. Right now we have two more fights left with this relationship and if everything goes well and we feel good about the relationship I don’t see why we wouldn’t want to extend that.”
What do you think about some of the other top heavyweights in the world like Brock Lesnar and Alistair Overeem and that most of them are bigger in size than you?
“Size and strength doesn’t always define the ability for a fighter to perform in the cage. These particular fighters are all some of the top heavyweights in the world and I have seen their fights and they all perform extremely well and have a lot of talents. But size does not define how well they would perform against me.”
What does define a great fighter?
“I think what defines a great fighter is someone who performs well in the cage. Someone who makes the right decisions during fights; fights fair and respects the sport and as a result gains the respect and the admiration of true fans of the sport of mixed martial arts. Someone who shows good skill and technique and preparation for a fight. Not someone who just relies only on his strength and size but also their abilities in the fights.”
What is left for you to accomplish? Do you have an interest in entering politics after your career ends?
“Well, I’d like to finish my career without any losses and at that point we’ll see what God has planned for me. While I’m an athlete and while I’m fighting I will not pursue a career in politics. What happens after that we’ll see. But I don’t have an intention to do both at the same time.
“I do feel that there is a pressure and a demand for me to keep fighting and for me to keep getting back into the ring. Right now I’m OK with that and after each fight I balance whether I should continue or whether I should stop. Until I feel that I am not effective or not getting out of the sport what I want then I will make the decision to stop.
“It was unpleasant that the fight kept getting postponed and I had to change my training because of it but it had nothing to do with me. I was looking forward to fighting in April and it was unpleasant that I wasn’t able to fight then.”
How do you react to your critics like Dana White?
“I often get secondhand information and my friends will tell me stuff because I don’t pay attention to it or seek it out so that’s how I usually get information to what people are saying. As far as my reaction, I don’t have any reaction. I don’t respond to any compliments of criticism. It’s not something that’s very important to me and I don’t really like to seek out information on what people are saying about me. I’m more interested in spending quality time in my everyday life with my family and friends than cruising the Internet or listening to rumors or call-outs.”
Is your hand healed that you broke in the Rogers fight?
“Everything is fine. Thank you for asking. I didn’t break the hand. It was a dislocation in my thumb and it has healed great.”
UFC heavyweights Shane Carwin-Brock Lesnar fight the following week. Which fight should people watch and why?
“I’m not a UFC fan so I would invite all the fans to watch our fight because we are not in the UFC.”
Asked later to clarify that, Fedor said:
“What I meant to say is that I’m not a fan of watching their fights. Compared to a lot of commercials and the promotion and the anticipation of their fights compared to a lot of the shows I’ve seen there seems to be a lot of negativity in them. So I’m just not a fan of watching their programs. How the fights are presented and the actions and behavior of some of the fighters of the UFC. It takes away from the sport.”
“I’m very happy to be fighting. I am very happy that Scott Coker believes in me. I’m sure that June 26 is going to be the happiest day of my life.
“This was the best training camp of my life. On June 26 I just have to do the same thing that I did in my training to be victorious.
“I’m not worried about the judging (if it goes to a decision). I think they will make the right decision and will be raising my hand after the fight.”
Why do most of the fighters who have fought Fedor end up losing the next time they fight?
“I think the mental preparation, or lack of mental preparation sticks with them for their future fights. A lot of fighters who have faced Fedor have already lost the fight before ever stepping in the cage with him because Fedor has proven himself to be the greatest in the world.”
How did the delay in the fight hurt your mental focus?
“It’s not been easy but I have been able to maintain that mental focus because the opportunity to fight the world’s greatest heavyweight doesn’t come around every day. I’ve been waiting for this moment my whole career and it’s finally here.”
What has been Fedor’s key to success?
“I have watched Fedor’s fights for his entire career. I think the thing that impresses me the most is his ability to always win. I come from a camp and background, however, that believes in fighting my game and not worrying about my opponent.
“I believe Fedor’s ground game is terribly underrated because he is so used to knocking people out.
“It’s a great honor for me to fight the No. 1 fighter in mixed martial arts such as Fedor. It’s a great inspiration and a motivating factor for me to step into the cage with a man like this.”
“This is a great matchup. You have the No. 1 fighter in the history of mixed martial arts fighting the No. 1 Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu heavyweight fighter and Top 10 heavyweight in the world. In mixed martial arts anything can happen at any time. One wrong move by either of these guys and it will result in victory for the other. Does one have to win by submission or knockout to get a fair decision? No, I don’t think so.”
How are ticket sales going?
“I think we are over the 10,000 mark now. I think we’ll have a packed house. We have a great fan base here and I think we’ll have a full house. Now that MMA is mainstream we have a big area in the Bay Area to pull from. I think people will be coming from all over. L.A. and the Central Valley. Cung Le will make a difference. He’s a great fighter and has a great presence here. My goal is always to sell out but HP holds 18,265 so that is our goal, but anything over 15,000 is respectable.”
What do you think of the UFC counter-programming with Strikeforce?
“They run their business how they do and we run our business the way we do. We’ll let them keep doing it and running the business the way we do. We had a fight between Gina Carano and Cris Cyborg last summer and it was the highest rated MMA show ever on Showtime, even beating all of Kimbo’s fights. It was great for MMA and great all around. There’s room for everyone. We’re just going to keep plugging along and doing our part.”
Tickets for STRIKEFORCE and M-1 Global: Fedor vs. Werdum are on sale at the HP Pavilion box office, all Ticketmaster locations (800) 745-3000, Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com) as well as www.strikeforce.com. For more information, please also visit www.M-1GLOBAL.com.