MMA Legend with Ties to Putin, Trump Approached by FBI Ahead of Bellator Fight

Jeremy Botter@jeremybotterMMA Senior WriterApril 28, 2018

US real estate mogul Donald Trump (C) poses with Mixed Martial Art (MMA) heavyweight fighters US Josh Barnett (L) and Russia's Fedor Emelianenko in New York on June 03, 2009 during a press conference to introduce a World MMA Championship which will take place between the two fighters. The upcoming fight is scheduled to take place on August, 1, 2009 in Anaheim, California.       AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel Dunand (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)
EMMANUEL DUNAND/Getty Images

Legendary mixed martial artist Fedor Emelianenko had some unusual additions to his pre-fight posse this week as he prepared to fight Frank Mir on Saturday night at Bellator 198: the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

According to a report from The Telegraph's Gareth A. Davies, FBI officers showed up at Emelianenko's Chicago hotel room. Emelianenko was outside taking a walk at the time, so the FBI officers waited for him to return. Once he did, the officers spoke with him, and since then they've returned several times.

Nobody knows what the discussions were about. A Bellator official confirmed with Bleacher Report that agents had visited Emelianenko, but they noted it's unlikely anyone but the agents, Emelianenko and his translator know what the purpose of the visit was.

Emelianenko is a celebrated athlete in Russia and has deep ties to both President Donald Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin, who has been ringside for many of his fights. Emelianenko has also served in an official capacity with the sports arm of the Russian government.

Putin congratulating Fedor after a win
Putin congratulating Fedor after a winAlexei Druzhinin/Associated Press/Associated Press

His ties to Trump run just as deep. In October 2016, the Hillary Clinton campaign released a video detailing then-presidential candidate Trump's ties to Putin and the Russian Federation. The video mentioned Trump's involvement in Affliction Entertainment, the fighting promotion founded by the company specializing in gaudy T-shirts, and noted that Trump's "deal" with a "Russian fighter" was one of his links to the Putin regime. Trump's partnership was not actually with Emelianenko but with the fighter's former promoter, Vadim Finkelchtein.

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Outside of his participation as a virtual front man for Affliction, Trump also planned a reality show with Emelianenko called Fighting Fedor.

"His thing is inflicting death on people," Trump said at the time.

Trump's longtime "fixer" Michael Cohen was named the COO of Affliction Entertainment in 2008. Cohen is now under investigation by federal prosecutors for multiple offenses, including bank fraud, campaign finance violations and wire fraud. His office, home and hotel room in New York City were raided two weeks ago by federal agents. The investigation stems from a $130,000 payment Cohen admitted making to porn star Stormy Daniels in order to preserve her silence on an affair Daniels has said she had with Trump in 2006.

As The Telegraph report notes, there is no evidence Emelianenko is linked to Trump and Cohen's current difficulties or that he's under investigation in any way.

Affliction Entertainment promoted just two events, both featuring Emelianenko in a headlining role, before going out of business due to financial troubles. Trump's reality show featuring Fedor never materialized.

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