by Jesse Holland
Will we see the “Last” of the “Emperor” on July 30?
Famed Russian heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko returns to cage fighting a week from Saturday to take on Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion Dan Henderson at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.
After losing back-to-back fights, most fighters convey a sense of urgency to get back into the win column.
Then again, the former WAMMA champion isn’t most fighters. But it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Fedor gets another high-profile fight if he goes belly up against “Hendo,” who has spent a significant portion of his career at middleweight (185-pounds).
Emelianenko was bounced from the Strikeforce Heavyweight Grand Prix Tournament earlier this year after the cageside doctor deemed him unfit to answer the bell for round three of his quarterfinal bout against Antonio Silva.
While he rushed to declare his retirement during his post-fight speech (later recanting), the prospect of him hanging up the gloves after July 30 still looms over him like an iron curtain.
Will he call it quits with a third straight loss? Here’s what he told media members on today’s Strikeforce: “Fedor vs. Henderson” conference call:
That’s God’s will. Right now I’m not worried about whether I win or lose and I’m not thinking about any future opponents. Right now I’m just thinking about this fight. After this fight, we’ll sit down and figure out what the next move is. One thing I’ve learned is that I know I can thank God for all of my successes and all of my failures, all of my good times and all of my bad times. Like an Orthodox Christian fighter, that’s how I’d like to be remembered.
Henderson, also a former PRIDE star, knows a thing or two about being counted out.
After an uninspiring debut saw him fall short against Jake Shields at Strikeforce: “Nashville” back in 2010, “Hollywood” (27-8) redeemed himself by knocking out Renato “Babalu” Sobral in St. Louis later that year.
The win was enough to earn him a title shot against division champion Rafael Cavalcante back on March 5 and “Hendo” made the most of the opportunity by knocking out “Feijao” with an “H-bomb” in the third round.
With Strikeforce suffering from a lack of depth in its 205-pound division, Henderson immediately set his sights on the down-but-not-out Emelianenko, who may be one loss away from permanently calling it quits.
Whaddaya say Maniacs, is this the beginning of the end? Or the start of a new era?