PRIDE FC had two heavyweight champions – Fedor Emelianenko and Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. Big Nog, now 40, went on to win the UFC heavyweight championship, and eventually retired last year on a three-fight losing streak. He had previously never lost fights back to back.
Now a member of the UFC Hall of Fame, Nogueira appeared recently on Submission Radio and discussed his PRIDE nemesis, Fedor Emelianenko.
The Last Emperor, now also 40, had likewise never lost a fight back to back, and he too lost three in a row. However, his management lowered the level of competition, Fedor won three in a row, and then retired in 2012, years before Nogueira hung up the 4 oz gloves.
However, last year Emelianenko returned to the ring, with a KO over the undistinguished Singh Jaideep. Then he beat the distinguished Fabio Maldonado in a highly controversial majority decision. And now he fights the extremely distinguished Matt Mitrione at Bellator 172 in February.
“If he got to the UFC five years ago, maybe seven years ago, something like that, he’d be in his prime,” said Nogueira, as transcribed by Dave Doyle for MMA Fighting. “But now, it’s not his time go anymore. If I’m in his place, It’s time to retire.”
“I mean Fedor is prepared for this fight, he’s fighting more, he’s been in shape. But a fight’s a fight, you never know. The last fight, Fedor and Maldanado, you know, Maldonado surprised him. So you never know. A fight is a fight but Fedor’s got everything to win this fight.”