In every sport there are heroes, athletes whose talent and heart transcend possibility, making them not only champions, but legends. Their stories linger within the fabric of the sport, woven inextricably into the tapestry of the pursuit of perfection. Fedor Emelianenko is just such a legend. The stories of his fights have become more than mere recitations of battles, they are the fabled tales that exist as mythical whispers enshrouding the rings and cages of every mixed martial arts (MMA) fight. 

It was only a few weeks ago that the legendary fighter announced his return to MMA amid a crescendo of excitement. It has been over three years since Emelianenko had retired, leaving a void unable to be filled by any other fighter.

The 'Last Emperor', as Emelianenko is known, has a record of 34-4. He fought, and dominated, Pride, the number one mixed martial arts organization of his time for over ten years as the number one, pound for pound, uncontested mixed martial artist of his generation. He has, up to this point, denied requests and rumors regarding a comeback, instead focusing on coaching young talent and growing his position as the President of the Russian MMA Union. 

It came, therefore, as a surprise when the Russian announced he would be returning to fighting and had already entered training. The champion, often called the Greatest of All Time, gave no other details of his return except that it was to occur. Mixed marital arts organizations around the world, as well as fighters in various stages of their careers, immediately began to weigh in.

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Responses ranged from messages of support, excitement, and encouragement to doubt in Emelianenko's ability to return and succeed in the ever changing world of fighting. Since he has left, much indeed has changed. Everything from rules and regulations to what fighters wear and how they wear it, has been part of an evolution of the sport as it has become more main stream.

Be that as it may, Emelianenko remains strong, steady, and quietly confident. Organizations from around the world are already lining up to vie for his talent and to have his name on the top their fight cards, battling for a shot at the title, and bringing the fans in by droves. For Emelianenko, however, it is not about the lights, the fans, or even the money, it is about fighting.  

"The desire to fight is in my blood,” Emelianenko explained. “I’m in the sport for 11 years, my whole life is training and competition."

So the 'Greatest of All Time' will return, bringing not only his legend with him, but the hope that lies within all of us that great fighters, and great comebacks are more than possible, that they do indeed exist.