Dear Mr. Fedor, we’re all hoping this doesn’t make us sad, sir

Greetings Mr. Fedor,

I hope this letter finds you well. It’s me, Chad, writing you today regarding this weekend’s bout against Mr. Johnson at Bellator 269 in Moscow. You don’t remember me, but we’ve talked on the phone a couple of times. On one occasion, I even made you laugh—more of a slight chuckle, actually, and through an interpreter on top of that—and, while you definitely don’t remember it, either, for me it was a pretty big moment. I almost had to take the phone away from my ear and stare at it for a second like, wow, I just made Fedor laugh. The great Fedor Emelianenko. I made him laugh. That was cool.

See, I’ve been watching you do this for a long time. Somewhere, maybe in the closet in my office, I still have a “Fedor” sweatshirt a friend gave me as a gift back during your Pride days. I wouldn’t describe the sweatshirt as particularly my style or particularly well made, but I still like it because it reminds me of your days as champion. Maybe I’ll dig it out and try to wear it this weekend.

I know you’re busy, sir, so I’ll get right to the point. I understand you haven’t had the opportunity to fight in Russia in a little more than five years and I’m betting that’s important to you because, well, you seem really, really into Russia. Like, kind of worryingly into it, frankly. I know it will be an emotional experience for you—we’ll all be experiencing our own emotions!—but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I have some concerns about how all this is going to go.

Please understand, I say this only in the interest of complete transparency. I winced a bit on Friday morning when I saw you’ll be giving up a 30.5-pound weight advantage to Mr. Johsnon, to go along with his advantages in height and reach. Size isn’t everything, obviously, but, well, I can’t help but think this doesn’t bode well. It had previously come to my attention that oddsmakers see you as a slight underdog in this bout, which in and of itself is a commentary on the late stage you’ve reached in your professional career. While I was heartened by your recent first-round victory over the rampageous Mr. Jackson (a sincere congratulations!), I can’t bring myself to anticipate a repeat performance this time around.

Mr. Johnson was on quite a roll in Bellator before running into your teammate, Mr. Moldavsky, back in June. Perhaps it’s possible Mr. Moldavsky’s success can provide you with some advance knowledge in what to expect in your own meeting with Mr. Johnson. Maybe this will be important not only in preparing a strategy but also with instilling some extra confidence. You can never have too much of that, I always say! I do hope this is the case, sir. While Mr. Johnson, a native of the great state of Minnesota, if I’m not mistaken, is himself quite likable, sentiment still remains with you. Myself and, I’m wagering, a large portion of the audience (both live and on television!) will be pulling for you.

Perhaps that’s part of the problem, as I get the distinct impression a sizeable percentage of your fan group approaches these final (?) contests of your career with no small amount of trepidation. We’re all eager to find our way to a positive outcome, not just in this fight but in your martial times at large. There are so few happy endings in this sport, I’m sure you can understand our fears. We hope the result here won’t make us sad. I, personally, keep thinking about that disappointed, bruised face you make when you lose and, I don’t mind telling you, sir, I could do without seeing that this weekend. Especially in your home country.

Why, I can remember as far back as your fight with Mr. Arlovski at Affliction: Day of Reckoning, thinking you appeared slower than normal and that Mr. Arlovski was having an easier time hitting you. Of course, you stormed back to score quite a knockout, didn’t you! It was the same story in another comeback win against Mr. Rogers later that year, but—ha ha!—I’ll spare us both the awkwardness of rehashing all the nasty business in Strikeforce. You were there, after all, sir. You remember it. Seems like a lifetime ago, though, at least to me.

Following your rehabilitative stint of fights overseas (5-0! Very impressive!) I was excited when you signed with Bellator owing, I’m sure, to your positive existing relationship with Mr. Coker. You fellows make a good team, and I’ll again be honest that things have actually gone somewhat better for you there than I might have guessed. But we are all getting older, sir, and, well, you know what they say about Father Time and his uninterrupted string of victories. This can’t go on forever, is what I’m getting at.

You have spoken recently of another retirement, albeit in a general sort of way. I do hope you’ll deliberate on the matter more fully following this weekend’s contest, no matter what the outcome.

We’re all rooting for you.

Warmest regards,

Photo by Bellator MMA

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