Emelianenko has been considered the best heavyweight fighter in the world for the last six years by many major publications, including ESPN, the Orange County Register, The Fight Network, the Houston Chronicle, The Wrestling Observer, Sherdog, and Inside MMA. Emelianenko was also chosen as the greatest fighter of all time across all weight classes by the expert panel of the television show "Inside MMA".
He has won numerous tournaments and accolades in multiple sports, most notably the Pride 2004 Grand Prix and the World Combat Sambo Championship on four occasions, as well as medaling in the Russian national Judo championship.
He is known for his ability to dominate fights using his opponents' strengths, creating an "aura" of fear around him, that he can defeat anyone from any position. He has been called a "machine" and "not human" throughout his career
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Martial arts background and training regimenEmelianenko's enthusiasm for fighting began with Sambo and Judo. He initially trained under Vasiliy Ivanovich Gavrilov, and later under his current coach, Vladimir Mihailovich Voronov. Voronov remembers that ten-year-old Fedor was relatively weak physically and did not have an innate grappling talent; instead, his biggest strength was his perseverance and strong will.
Fedor Emelianenko's official biography erroneously states that he trained in Sambo during his army years. However, he has specified in a 2005 interview that this is incorrect, and his training in the army was limited to running and strength training in a makeshift gym he put together himself.
In 1997, Emelianenko received the official certification of a "Master of Sports" in Sambo and Judo and became part of the Russian national team. In 1998, after earning a bronze medal in the Russian Judo Championship, he started studying striking with arms and legs under coach Alexander Vasilievich Michkov. Emelianenko started competing in combat sambo and mixed martial arts in 2000 at the age of 25, because he "didn't have any money".
Emelianenko trains two or three times per day to maintain and improve his skills. He particularly utilizes basic training methods like running, ropes, and dead weight lifting. Emelianenko used to weight train extensively, but in 1997 he almost completely substituted his weight exercises with sport-specific training in grappling, boxing, and kickboxing. His strength training consists of daily pull-ups, dips on parallel bars, and crunches. Emelianenko also runs twice a day every day for a combined distance of 12–15 kilometers (7-10 miles), and is a proponent of high altitude training, travelling to Kislovodsk, Russia with his team once or twice a year to train in high altitude. Emelianenko's team consists of grappling coach Voronov, boxing coach Michkov, Muay Thai coach Ruslan Nagnibeda, doctor, masseur and psychologist Oleg Neustroev, his training partners, including Roman Zentsov, and, until June 2006, his brother Aleksander.
In 2005 Emelianenko started paying special attention to improving his kicking technique. He trained Muay Thai with kickboxer Ernesto Hoost in Netherlands, and added a Muay Thai coach, Ruslan Nagnibeda, “Seikin-do” league 78 kg title holder from 1998 to 2002 (33-3-1) and a former Tula State University Muay Thai instructor, to his team. Recently, Emelianenko has expressed interest in training young athletes.
In November 2007, Emelianenko competed once again in the World Combat Sambo Championships, which brought together 780 representatives from 45 countries. When his opponent in the quarterfinals failed to show up, he received a bye to the semifinals, where he submitted a Bulgarian fighter with a choke in 40 seconds. The other finalist declined to compete, defaulting victory to Emelianenko.
In an interview, Emelianenko said he doesn't consider himself to be the best pound-for-pound fighter. Saying "I don’t consider myself on top of the pedestal. I have certain weaknesses and I make certain mistakes. Of course, that is frustrating, because like any athlete, I strive to get better each day. I know a lot of the media and the fans want to say I’m the best. I appreciate that, but that’s not how I consider myself."
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