He’s the current WAMMA heavyweight champion and former PRIDE heavyweight champion. He’s 28-1 lifetime in MMA with his only loss coming by way of a cut. He’s also considered by some to be “The Baddest Man on the Planet.”
But in the eyes of famed boxing trainer Freddie Roach, Fedor Emelianenko is just another MMA fighter that is lacking in standup technique.
“He’s flat-footed, has no technique,” Roach told SI.com’s Josh Gross recently, before adding, “But he can punch. That always helps. He’s accurate. He’ll follow you right to the floor, so he’s aggressive. But that aggressiveness can be used to our advantage, I think.”
By “us,” Roach is referring to him and former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski, who will challenge Fedor for the WAMMA heavyweight title on January 24 in Anaheim, California during Affliction’s “Day of Reckoning.”
The bruiser from Belarus has been working with Roach for the past several months as he looks to add polish to his already devestating striking skills that allowed him to record pure knockouts against three of his last five opponents.
While Roach isn’t a particular fan of Fedor’s striking style, he is fully aware of his abilities and prowess as a mixed martial artist. He even compared his reputation of dominance to that of former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson.
“A lot of guys lose the fight before it starts,” Roach is quoted as saying in Gross’ article. “[Emelianenko is] like Mike Tyson. A lot of guys are scared of him. So the mental game is so important that you can’t be scared. You have to be fearless against him.”
But don’t expect Arlovski to be intimidated by Fedor in the slightest. In fact, during a recent press conference to promote the event, “The Pitbull” expressed his belief that it could be Fedor that is the one who has a crisis in confidence.
“After his loss in the Sambo tournament, I think he’s messed up a little bit,” Arlovski said. “He says it’s not important, but c’mon, let’s be serious. He was unbeatable, like, five years, six years in Sambo, and he’s not beatable in MMA. When you lose something, of course it’s (expletive) important. For me, it’s really hard to believe that he doesn’t care about it. Of course he cares. He’s not like 100 percent sure of himself.”
Gross’ article goes on to add that Roach is preparing Arlovski for a possible pro boxing debut that could come after Jan. 24. However, rumors of Arlovski taking on current seven foot WBA heavyweight champion Nikolai Valuev. The Russian giant recently defended his title against Evander Holyfield on Dec. 20, winning a controversial decision that the WBA is currently reviewing.
It’s understandable that no mention of the rumor was made, considering that there appears to be no validity to an 0-0 fighter challenging for a major heavyweight title in his pro debut. As of now, it looks like Roach has laid out a more realistic approach for Arlovski’s boxing aspirations.
“We’ll start off with a low-caliber opponent,” he told Gross. “I wouldn’t have 30 fights. I’d say five fights, then fight [Vitali or Wladimir] Klitschko.”