Last summer I spent two days with Fedor Emelianenko – let me rephrase that – last summer I spent two days near Fedor Emelianenko. He was on a promotional tour for the ill-fated Affliction: Trilogy show and FIGHT! photog Paul Thatcher and I met him and the M-1 Global entourage in Kansas City for an M-1 Challenge show before crossing the state to attend Strikeforce: Lawler vs. Shields. I shared the same hotel, bus, and fight venues, but my direct access to him was limited to about one hour, including the time it took to shoot the cover photo for the magazine.
It was a bizarre arrangement for us because FIGHT! is lucky to have unfettered access to the biggest names in MMA. Our writers hang out with fighters in the gym and in their homes. We share meals with them and meet their families. Hell, we even go bowling with them. But Fedor and his M-1 Global handlers are different. Not bad, not wrong, just…different.
I didn’t get to spend as much time speaking with him as I would like but I got what I think to be an accurate picture of him through observation and extensive interviews with the people he keeps close like Steve Bash and Apy Echteld. Read the story to find out what conclusions I came to that weekend, and tune in to CBS on Nov. 7 to see if “The Last Emperor” gets dethroned by Brett Rogers.