Sambo loss prompts Fedor Emelianenko to cancel U.S. press tour

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Following his recent loss at the 2008 World Sambo Championships -- his first in eight years -- Fedor Emelianenko has canceled a planned public-relations tour to the U.S.

Instead, the Russian fighter and current WAMMA heavyweight title-holder will use the time to prepare for his Jan. 24 "Affliction: Day of Reckoning" main-event fight with Andrei Arlovski.

Representatives from M-1 today alerted ( and other media outlets of Emelianenko's decision.

The 32-year-old Emelianenko suffered the Sambo loss to Blagoy Ivanov earlier this month. Emelianenko, like his upcoming opponent Arlovski, is considered a stand-out in the sport, which is a modern martial art developed in Russia as a self-defense system. In fact, Emelianenko won the championships four times, twice as a heavyweight and twice in the open-weight division. He finished third in the open-weight division this year.

In competitions such as the world championships, points are awarded for throws and maneuvering, though striking is limited.

"My trainers, Vladimir Voronov and Alexander Michkov, met with me in Russia after the World Sambo Championships, and we decided that the Arlovski [fight] is too important to delay a comprehensive training camp in exchange for press-tour obligations on the other side of the world," Emelianenko stated. "Andrei Arlovski is a dangerous fighter and has looked in prime condition and at the top of his game in his last few fights. He is one of the top three heavyweights in the world. This is not a fighter I will defeat if I am taking shortcuts in training."

Emelianenko had been scheduled to make stops in New York City, Las Vegas and Los Angeles in December.

He admits his recent Sambo loss received a surprising amount of attention. Last week videos of the match popped up all over the Web.

"Sambo is my hobby, and I enjoy very much participating in these tournaments to honor my country and use Sambo as the best training format for MMA," Emelianenko stated. "But MMA is my job, and I certainly approach my preparation differently. I had a nice run of Sambo victories since 2000, but I have lost in a Sambo match before this match as well. I think a lot of MMA fans have never seen Sambo before, so I guess you can say I am happy that the recent loss has made some people pay attention to the sport and see the differences between Sambo and MMA."

Emelianenko last competed in July, when he defeated Tim Sylvia with a quick and efficient TKO. Prior to the fight, like now, Emelianenko was considered one of the sport's top fighters and perhaps the No. 1 heavyweight. However, the former PRIDE heavyweight champion was still relatively unknown to casual MMA fans in the U.S. since all but one of his previous fights had taken place overseas.

"I wish I could see the fans in America to announce the (Arlovski) fight, but I will not be able to attend the press tour as I did for the Tim Sylvia fight," Emelianenko stated. "I received an incredibly warm welcome the last time I was in the United States and was looking forward to reuniting with my fans. But I must begin to prepare for Arlovski early and under the stringent training regimen and conditions that I have grown accustom to for all of my most dangerous opponents. There are people in MMA who attempt to paint a different picture of who the top fighters in the world are today and I must be fully prepared and focused to defend the reputation and status of my achievements in the sport."


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