This past Saturday night, Bellator 290 went down on CBS and the heavyweight title was on the line in the main event. “The Last Emperor” Fedor Emelianenko (40-7) was looking to go out on top as he took on heavyweight champion Ryan Bader (31-7).
The two men had met for the heavyweight title a few years ago with Bader scoring a knockout in just over 30-seconds. On the heels of back-to-back wins, Fedor earned himself this title shot. It was known that this would be his final fight and a retirement ceremony would take place after the fight was over.
Bader was there to play spoiler and that’s exactly what he did. When Fedor whiffed on a big right hand, Bader caught him in the temple with one that sent Fedor down. Fedor defended well on the ground for a bit, but ultimately Bader closed the show with a TKO win.
With the loss, Fedor failed in his mission to win the Bellator heavyweight title. Since 2009, Fedor had predominately competed in US-Based promotions, but he never captured a heavyweight title during his run.
Is Bellator’s Fedor the GOAT?
While Fedor didn’t walk out as Bellator champion, he’s still one of the greatest to ever do it. The real question on everyone’s mind is whether or not you consider Fedor to be the greatest heavyweight in MMA history.
You get people on the far sides of both fences here. UFC President Dana White is obviously one of the more vocal ones that he’s not the best ever mainly because he never tested himself in the UFC. Other people will go to the ends of this Earth to tell you Fedor is the best heavyweight of all time.
I’m more in the middle of the issue. If you take Fedor’s run from the early 2000’s to 2009, we’ve never seen anything like it. His dominance for that lengthy period of time against the top competition of the day was incredible. No, he never fought in the UFC. However, during the Pride days, the UFC didn’t have the best heavyweight division.
The two guys who were staples of the heavyweight division during that time, Tim Sylvia and Andrei Arlovski, fought Fedor and he knocked both of them out. The one guy he never fought who was at the top during that time was Randy Couture.
In my opinion as things stand, you have to give Fedor the respect as the best heavyweight of all time because of the run he had. Nobody in the UFC has had a run like he had for those years. Sure, he never captured Strikeforce or Bellator gold, but his best days were already behind him.
Now, I do think the GOAT status is definitely up for grabs moving forward. I already consider Jon Jones to be the greatest fighter of all time. If he beats Ciryl Gane next month to become heavyweight champion and defends the title multiple times, he could end up with the greatest fighter, light heavyweight, and heavyweight titles. But, for now, Fedor gets my vote.