In Mother Russia, rumor creates you.
Fedor Emelianenko, a wildcard in the UFC 146 sweepstakes, will not be a late replacement for Alistair Overeem, whose status against Junior dos Santos is in jeopardy following a failed urine test in advance of their Las Vegas title fight on May 26, 2012.
Instead, "The Last Emperor" will compete in his native Russia on June 21, going mano-e-mano against "an opponent to be named" at the Ice Palace in St. Petersburg, according to M-1 Global Director of Operations Evengi Kogan.
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.
Can he make it three straight against the dangerous stylings of TBA?
Unfortunately for Fedor, the two most popular heavyweights not competing under the ZUFFA banner are Slim and None. Muscular attractions like Todd Duffee and Bobby Lashley, while physically imposing, haven't proven much in their sporadic appearances.
Then again, this sport is crazy enough that it's not impossible to imagine a scenario where Alistair Overeem gets cut from the UFC for torpedoing its main event -- only to resurface in Russia to fight Emelianenko.
But enough crazy talk.
The field is wide open here, Maniacs, who do you want to see "The Last Emperor" fight next?