Photo via RollesGracie.com.
The Fedor Emelianenko sweepstakes is starting to heat up as we get closer to his upcoming fight on June 21, 2012 at the Ice Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia.
According to a report from MMA Weekly, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) black belt and budding mixed martial artist Rolles Gracie is one of the leading candidates to face off against "The Last Emperor" under the M-1 banner.
Gracie provides an update via his official twitter:
Where there is smoke there is fire. My manager is under negotiation with M1. We're really close to make this fight against Fedor to happen.
Gracie (6-1) was one and done with Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) after a technical knockout loss to Joey Beltran at UFC 109: "Relentless" in early 2010. He was widely-criticized for his performance, but has since won consecutive fights against Lee Mein and Bob Sapp on the International circuit.
And despite Fedor's recent woes, this would still be a major step up in competition for the grappling wizard.
Emelianenko snapped a three-fight losing skid with a unanimous decision win over Jeff Monson last November, before making it two in a row with a first round knockout finish of judo expert Satoshi Ishii in the DREAM: "Genki Desu Ka Omisoka" year-end MMA extravaganza in Japan.
Nothing is official at this time and other options still remain for the former PRIDE Heavyweight Champion; however, the ZUFFA zealots have thinned the herd quite a bit, particularly in the 265-pound division, so any non-UFC combatant should be considered fair game.
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Rolles Gracie. Who wants it?