Fedor Emelianenko, a Russian bear of a mixed martial arts heavyweight whose greatness includes the asterisk of never participating in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, announced his retirement after a Thursday night fight in his home country.
“I think it is time I quit,” Emelianenko said in a story by Russian news site Ria Novosti after a first-round triumph over former UFC fighter Pedro Rizzo. “My family influenced my decision. My daughters are growing without me. That's why it's time to leave.”
An intriguing athlete who boasted the rare combination of powerful brawn, lightning punching and wrestling speed polished in his secluded Siberian training camp, Emelianenko, 35, owned victories over three men who held the UFC heavyweight belt, Andrei Arlovski, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Tim Sylvia.
But he remain unsigned in fights the MMA world begged for.
Former UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture yearned for a shot at Emelianenko, which never happened.
A showdown against Brock Lesnar also had great potential.
During the Russian’s prime, UFC President Dana White made several runs at landing Emelianenko, but White and UFC Chairman Lorenzo Fertitta would not yield on efforts by Emelianenko’s Russian promoter M-1 to co-promote his fights.