Fedor Emelianenko is back.
The Russian MMA fighter considered by many to be the greatest of all time at heavyweight—if not all weight classes—earned a first-round knockout victory Thursday in his return to action after more than three years in retirement. It happened at Rizin Fighting Federation 2, the new Japan-based promotion that held its first event Dec. 29 and came into existence shortly after Emelianenko announced his return to the sport.
The 39-year-old Emelianenko (35-4-1) handled relative MMA unknown Jaideep Singh (2-1) in approximately three minutes. Ground-and-pound was the key to victory.
Singh, an imposing figure who was a champion kickboxer but a comparative novice in MMA, never appeared to get his offense going. Emelianenko landed a takedown after approximately 90 seconds of low-output standup action.
After Emelianenko connected with the takedown, he quickly achieved full mount, from which position he began to work his vaunted ground-and-pound. Singh had few, if any, responses to the position or the strikes, and tapped out to punches to end the contest.
As UFC lightweight Al Iaquinta observed on Twitter, Singh was "toast on the ground."
Despite the fact that it was a fairly one-sided affair, Emelianenko's return to MMA was a much-ballyhooed occasion among hardcore MMA fans. The longtime Pride heavyweight champion retired in 2012 after three consecutive wins over less-than-elite opponents.
Emelianenko has never competed in the UFC. The closest he came was the now-defunct Strikeforce promotion. The Russian entered that promotion on a nine-year-long unbeaten streak and won one fight there but later lost what was then considered a shocking upset to Fabricio Werdum. Werdum has since gone on to claim ownership of the UFC heavyweight title.
Looking forward, Rizin promotion officials made no immediate announcement regarding a potential next opponent for Emelianenko, or any potential timeline for such a matchup.
In addition, it is also not clear whether or how Singh will continue in his own MMA career.