WAMMA heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko has a message for Randy Couture following his loss to Brock Lesnar at last Saturday's UFC 91: keep your chin up.
MMAWeekly.com spoke with Emelianenko via telephone as he finished watching the first round of the fight on a nearby television. The top ranked heavyweight is currently in Thailand, filming an action movie starring RutgerHauer and Michael Madsen.
"It's a very interesting fight," Emelianenko said of the bout's first round through his interpreter. "So far, it looks like Randy -- he's more active in the ring."
Asked who the winner of the first round was, he paused.
"The first round, I thought Randy had the round," he continued after a beat. "He certainly showed more skills. He was quite interesting in the first round."
If Emelianenko knew how the fight ended in advance, he didn't make it known. But after witnessing Lesnar's fight-ending hammerfists, he warmed to the former pro wrestler.
"He's a very good fighter," he remarked. "He's a very strong fighter. I'm very impressed with his speed."
Emelianenko said it was too early to say how he would have approached the fight differently. Not what you'd expect, seeing as he knows a thing or two about facing monsters. In his last three years of MMA competition, Emelianenko has faced an equal amount of giants -- Tim Sylvia, Hong Man Choi and Wagner da Conceicao Martins. Lesnar's speed clearly set him apart from those Emelianenko had laid waste to in the rings outside the UFC.
"I would certainly take a different tactic to the fight, although I do believe that Randy had a smart game plan, but it appears that he wasn't able to control the top position, which is what I believe he was trying to do," Emelianenko offered.
Jerry Millen, M-1 Global's American Vice President, issued a statement following the interview that welcomed an Emelianenko vs. Lesnar fight, however grim the chances of its fruition are at the moment.
"We would welcome a Fedor vs. Lesnar matchup, but to act in a preemptive fashion to address the possibility that UFC officials will try and position Lesnar as the No. 1 heavyweight in the world, much like they have tried to use a marketing ploy to brand Anderson Silva as the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world," the statement read. "In a match between Fedor and Lesnar, we do not feel that at this stage Lesnar would be able to make it out of the first round."
Emelianenko has certainly resigned himself to the fact that a fight with Couture may never happen. Despite his affinity for the legend, he says it suits him fine if he never gets the chance to participate in the dream match-up.
"Nothing is ever certain," Emelianenko said. "This is something that the managers and the organizers need to resolve. But I understand that in all likelihood if Randy stays with the UFC, that the chances of us fighting are much less, and hopefully our fans will be able to overcome that. We both have our history in the sport and if a fight between Randy and I was not to materialize in the future, there will still be other fights. I'm not going to be angry or upset about it in any way."
In his usual understated way, Emelianenko stopped short of calling Lesnar out in his critique. That's for the managers.
As for a message to his friend and colleague, another pause.
"I would tell Randy that -- I'm sure he already knows -- he's already in the history books, that he's a legendary fighter, and regardless of the outcome of this fight, things just didn't go his way," Emelianenko said.