Rampage may be a trash talker but the dude has a heart.
This weekend he faces an MMA legend when he steps in to the cage and squares off with Fedor Emelianenko. The Bellator fighters will return to their old Pride Fighting Championships stomping ground and do battle at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
Emelianenko is admittedly only a shadow of the monster that ruled over the Pride and WAMMA heavyweight divisions from 2003 to 2009. He started a decline when he faced and was submitted for the first time in his professional career by Fabricio Werdum in the Strikeforce organization. He would get TKO’d in his next two bouts by Bigfoot Silva and Dan Henderson before eventually fighting in Russia again. When he returned to the USA for the Bellator organization in 2017 he was knocked out by Matt Mitrione in 1:14 stunning his long time supporters. Headed in to Sunday’s event, Emelianenko is coming off of a KO loss to Ryan Bader and needs this win to keep talks of retirement at bay.
Rampage is coasting in to the event after knocking out Wanderlei Silva again in September of last year putting the nail in the rivalry coffin. He may dislike Wanderlei but with Fedor it’s a different story. I can only imagine the other Pride fighters backstage stopping what they were doing to watch the monitors when Fedor was in the ring. It would be hard not to be star struck.
Rampage admitted he was indeed a big fan when he spoke to MMAJunkie and that this fight was hard on him mentally as well as emotionally. (via MiddleEasy)
It’s been kind of hard for me to mentally prepare and get ready for this fight because you guys know how I like to knock people out, my team’s like, ‘Oh, you got to knock him out, you got to knock him out,’ and me being a big fan of Fedor, I’m thinking that’s the last thing he needs is to get knocked out right away and stuff like that, but none of that matters because when I get in that cage, ‘Rampage’ don’t have no friends. I don’t even like that motherf—er. Nobody likes ‘Rampage,’ ‘Rampage’ don’t like nobody, so it don’t matter.
I feel like we as fans selfishly want to see the 43 year old compete until he’s 100 but at some point the body just doesn’t come back from punishment like it used to. This probably wouldn’t be as easy to shake off for today’s Fedor…