Back in 2015, Fedor Emelianenko revealed that he believed mixed martial arts to be a “man’s sport” unfit for female competitors, insisting that “there are a lot of other sports where women look like women.” Despite the growth of women’s MMA over the past three years, it appears that the man regarded by many as the greatest heavyweight fighter of all time has not changed his mind.
During a press conference that took place ahead of the Russian MMA Championships, Fedor — the president of the Russian MMA Union — doubled down on his beliefs that women should not participate in combat sports like MMA.
“Personally, I am not a supporter of women’s fights,” said Fedor when asked about the absence of women at the Russian championships.
While Fedor’s comments could be viewed as outdated and controversial, it is a perspective shared by many Russians who refuse to watch females compete in violent sports. While several talented female fighters have emerged from the Russian Federation, they are forced to compete in the United States or Europe because of the lack of opportunities on home soil.
Though Russia has several regional promotions with the resources to contract female competitors, including M-1 Global, ACB, Fight Nights Global, and Akhmat MMA, none of them have an official women’s division.
However, given that Fedor is the president of the Russian MMA Union — the entity responsible for amateur MMA in the Russian Federation — his resistance to women’s MMA will likely continue to hinder any potential growth opportunities for females in the sport.