Remember Andrei Semenov? I do, from his UFC debut way back at UFC 35 against Ricardo Almeida AKA that small frame of time when Dana White still had hair on his head. I knew nothing of the Russian fighter before then, but after he manhandled Almeida, I never forgot the name. However, the 29-9-2 fighter from the same team as Fedor Emelianenko has not fought since 2008, earning a win over Gregory Babene by split decision at IAFC – Russia vs. the World, and the name faded away into obscurity once more.
For whatever reason, the spark was lit once again, as Andrei is returning to active competition this month at M-1 Challenge XXV, and is not getting an easy match to welcome himself back in. Standing across the big white ring in Russia will American Top Team’s Luigi Fiorivanti, who has been making a name for himself in the European company. I had a chance to speak with Andrei through a translator to find out how he is preparing for this comeback match, if he is back for good, more! For Russian MMA fans, head to the bottom of the article and read the entire interview translated into the Russian written language of the Cyrillic alphabet!
The Fight Nerd: Andrei, you are getting ready to fight Luigi Fioravanti at M-1 Challenge 25. What are you doing to get ready for this match?
Andrei: Right now the training is in decline in advance of the fight. We are paying a lot of attention to endurance, tactics, striking and wrestling.
The Fight Nerd: Luigi has been unbeaten in his last five matches against some solid competitors. What do you think of his fighting style and what will be his greatest weakness?
Andrei: His strength is that he is has good endurance and is resilient. Luigi also has good stand-up. As for weaknesses, he has a tendency to miss strikes from the right side.
The Fight Nerd: The last time fans saw you fight was in late 2008. Almost three years later you are returning to competition. What kept you out of action for so long?
Andrei: I didn’t fight MMA but I participated in the hand-to-hand fighting and combat sambo championships. I was teaching master-classes, attending sports camps and working in the movie industry. I didn’t really have any MMA offers that were significant enough to get me back in the ring.
The Fight Nerd: Are you back in MMA for good or is this a test to see if you still like to fight?
Andrei: I want to return and test myself. MMA is constantly changing and evolving and I want to be part of these changes.
The Fight Nerd: Will ring rust be a factor in this bout?
Andrei: No. (Editor’s note: Sounds like he is pretty serious about this one, and I for one believe the man!)
The Fight Nerd: The current M-1 middleweight champ is Magomed Sultanakhmedov. Have you seen any of his fights and what do you think about him?
Andrei: Yes I have seen his fights; we went to the training camp in Novosibirsk together. He is good standing up and he has good striking techniques. As with all good fighters, there are certain elements he needs to improve on but overall he has a good fighting style.
The Fight Nerd: Your teammate, Fedor Emelianeko, has been down on his luck in his last two fights, and word is he may fight Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Dan Henderson next at a catchweight. What do you think about this matchup?
Andrei: He will fight as a light heavyweight??? (really surprised). Well that would be tough for him. Fedor’s training will be the determining factor in his success.
The Fight Nerd: Taking a step back in time for a moment, you fought for the early days of Zuffa-owned UFC. What do you think about the UFC purchase of Strikeforce? Is it good or bad for the sport?
Andrei: I can’t really say… The UFC is the main organization and the strongest will survive there. The purchase will be good for some and bad for others.
The Fight Nerd: Do you have any last words for Luigi before you see him on April 28?
The Fight Nerd: Any sponsors you would like to thanks?
Andrei: I want to thank everybody who has been with me from the start for their support and help along the way.
You can catch Andrei Semenov make his return to MMA against Luigi Fiorivanti at M-1 Challenge XXV from St. Petersburg, Russia will be available to viewers worldwide on the official M-1 Global website and this website as well starting at 11:00am EST / 8:00am PST on Thursday April 28th.
RUSSIAN LANGUAGE VERSION:
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