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“They only teach them how to mix vodka with beer” – the great Karelin tries his hand at MMA, and now he spits on it

Alexander Karelin is one of the greatest athletes, in general, in the history of all sports. The Russian Dream has 887 victories in a total of 892 bouts in his wrestling career; three-time Olympic champion and nine-time world champion.

After ending his sports career, Karelin became one of “Putin’s champions” – sports heroes who invariably occupy some political positions or are appointed to various leading public positions.

While performing these roles, Karelin, who is a several-term member of the Duma, regularly criticizes mixed martial arts.

“What can mixed martial arts teach the younger generation? How to mix vodka with beer. To me, it’s not a sport Karelin says to the YouTube channel of the Russian journalist Oksana Kravtsova. –

Fyodor Vladimirovich Emelianenko did a lot to introduce the best innovations to make the sport more spectacular, but even here (in Russia – b.a.) for them everything is a show, which is incomprehensible to me. Even Fedya wouldn’t be so invincibly good in MMA if he wasn’t good at sambo.

And most importantly, what do they even mix? How can you mix skills learned in the judo gym with those of a wrestler or karateka? If our respect for the opponent starts with cutting the nails the night before a match, how can it be permissible to force your already defeated opponent to the floor?

Some may not know, but Karelin has also tried his hand at MMA. In 1999, nearing the end of his career, the Russian Bear embarked on a Japanese adventure in a sport he now says teaches you nothing more than “mixing vodka with beer”.

More than 20 years ago, Karelin traveled to Tokyo to face local star Akira Maeda in a mega-event on the RINGS circuit. At the time, the rules of MMA were still not completely clear, let alone uniform among different organizations.

According to the terms of the fight, punching was prohibited. The two fighters were only allowed to use their legs in a stance, and on the ground they were also allowed to make switches. There was also a special rule, according to which you can get out of an unpleasant situation by grabbing the ropes, but this costs you a point deduction.

The battle was far from spectacular. Maeda kicked Karelin, but the Russian Bear was completely dominating when it came to switches and the ground game. The Japanese managed to hold out for the full 15 minutes (three rounds of five minutes), under the weight of Karelin, but after the last gong for several minutes he could not calm his breathing and stand up.

Meanwhile, the referee had raised Karelin’s hand high in the air as a sign of his victory.

“He kicked me twice with a very precise technique. They call these low kicks. I felt pain, but nothing alarming that could really hurt me. Suddenly I saw his leg fly towards my head. I immediately grabbed him, grabbed his head and I heard how yesterday’s menu growled in his stomach. He couldn’t breathe. Even then the match became difficult for him,” says Karelin about that match, from which he donated all his prize money to the Russian Wrestling Federation.

Maeda adds: “I thought I could beat him if I kept him at a distance. I thought so, but Karelin was of a different opinion. At one point I was afraid he might break my bones. I never believed that someone’s grip it can be so strong. I felt like a racehorse had hugged me, his muscles were the same. No matter how much you train, you don’t make a body like that, you’re born with it.”

Rulon Gardner pulls off one of sport's biggest upsets - but his personal story is far more dramatic than the famous triumph over Karelin

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