Ahead of his debut in Bellator MMA, Russian MMA veteran Fedor Emelianenko spoke about Matt Mitrione and the respectful nature of his American opponent.

The PRIDE legend is set to face former UFC fighter Mitrione, February 18 at Bellator 172 in San Jose, Calif. and is currently preparing for the bout in his hometown of Stary Oskol, Russia.

Talking with a local television, Oskol City TV, “The Last Emperor” praised Mitrione’s skills but admitted he is ready to return to action in the United States.

“I personally watched [Mitrione’s] last fight in the U.K. but we did not meet backstage, only at official meetings and media stuff,” said Fedor, who was a guest fighter during Bellator 158 last July in London. “I am happy to see he shows much respect to me with no trash talk or attacks. He is a young, good fighter with fast hands and impact movements. We are ready to face that.”

Fedor makes his comeback to compete in the U.S. for the first time since July 2011, when he fought – and was subsequently knocked out by – Dan Henderson in Strikeforce.

Also, giving analysis about Mitrione, Emelianenko’s coach, Alexander Michkov praised Mitrione but affirmed his confidence in his own fighter to get the victory.

“The opponent is quite interesting and is a good challenge to us. He has long arms, big size, southpaw fighter and has much speed in his footwork, he can give problems to Fedor. [Mitrione] hits hard and has power to finish with a one shot. But if you look to other ways, he does not have many combinations and has many losses by knockout,” analysed Michkov.

The bout at the SAP Center will mark 40-year-old Fedor’s first fight since a very difficult contest against Fábio Maldonado at EFN 50: Fight Nights Global in July 2016. The Russian figure-head took a majority decision in St. Petersburg despite being nearly knocked unconscious in the first round. WMMAA have since overturned the fight to a draw.