Sunday, January 20, 2008


Randy Couture, step aside. An even bigger worldwide mixed martial arts star wants a shot at Fedor Emelianenko.

Bob "The Beast" Sapp told that he would like to face Emelianenko, who is regarded as MMA's top pound-for-pound performer. Sapp said he was slated to fight Emelianenko in 2002 but the Russian heavyweight declined the fight while both were working for the now-defunct PRIDE promotion.

Sapp said his desire to fight Emelianenko was whetted after watching him struggle early during last month's submission victory over the much-bigger Hong-Man Choi in Japan. At 6-0 and 235 pounds, Emelianenko also would have a considerable size disadvantage against the monstrous Sapp (6-6, 360 pounds).

"When I see what Emelianenko did against Choi, it shows how good he is but it also showed his weakness against larger opponents," Sapp said. "I'd love to fight Fedor."

Couture feels the same way. But he is currently embroiled in contractual litigation with the Ultimate Fighting Championship that may prevent the match-up from ever taking place. Couture's UFC departure was partially spurred by promoter Dana White's inability to sign Emelianenko, who instead joined the upstart M-1 MMA group.

Sapp said he is set to sign a new contract with K-1 and that the Japan-based kickboxing promotion has plans to work with M-1. Such an arrangement could ultimately lead to a Sapp vs. Emelianenko dream bout either in Japan or the U.S.

But first things first. Sapp is set to make his U.S. MMA debut in the main event of a Feb. 23 StrikeForce show in Tacoma, Wash. Sapp said his opponent will likely be Jan "The Giantt" Nortje. Both have competed in K-1 since 2002 but never fought each other.

Sapp has far more experience under MMA rules than Nortje, who has a 1-4 career record in that genre. But at 6-foot-11 and 327 pounds, Nortje is considerably taller and has knockout power.
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