While a former star of the now-defunct Japanese-based PRIDE Fighting Championships and despite two appearances on American soil, Fedor Emelianenko, who fights Brett Rogers at this weekend's CBS-televised Strikeforce event, is still relatively unknown to casual U.S. fight fans.

After "FIGHT CAMP 360," though, that'll no longer be the case.



Ever since Showtime and Strikeforce first announced the 30-minute special (9:30 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime) last month, we've teased preview videos and photos that showed an intimate look at the Ukrainian's home base in Stary Oskol, Russia.

The actual special picks up right where those previews left off. The B-roll footage alone gives a great sense of Emelianenko's quaint home city, but following along with the MMA legend into his gym, home and beloved small town is where you get a sense of truly knowing the man.

And that man, proven time and time again to be one of the sport's must humble, barely stands out as he trains under coach Alexander Michkov – alongside school children at the local community gym. As Michkov explains, the training camps have largely remained the same over the years and are tweaked only slightly depending on the opponent.

Perhaps the most successful part of the program is that Emelianenko comes across human. (And that's meant as a compliment.) Although legend has painted him a bear-fighting, part-robot, emotionless wrecking machine, Emelianenko seems quite ordinary once you see him goofing around with training partners, cracking jokes with his coaches, attending church with his family, and enjoying a traditional banya (a Russian steam) with brother Ivan.

The show, though, takes a clearly different tone when we head to Minnesota to meet Rogers. The hard-hitting, Mohawk-toting former tire serviceman is clearly the underdog, despite his perfect 10-0 record, and producers make no secret of it.

In fact, coach Mike Reilly, training partners, Rogers' wife and even his grandmother talk as though the fighter must defy the odds. After Rogers returns to Sam's Club (where he worked up until this year) and gives a tour of a new home in a safe neighborhood for his kids, we learn that these life changes only happened because of the payday the Emelianenko fight provides. For "Grim," this is truly a life-altering event.

Posted by Hoffa Wednesday, November 4, 2009

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