Bellator has been planning the return of one of the greatest fighters in MMA history. Fedor Emelianenko (39-6, 1 NC) has been gearing up for his return to the cage for the last year. The promotion announced that Fedor would be returning in October and he’d be headlining a card in his homeland of Russia.
Today, we learned who Fedor would be facing when he returns to the cage. Bellator announced that their second ranked heavyweight, Tim Jonson (15-7), would be the one facing off against Fedor in October. In all honesty, I’m a little surprised by the booking decision.
Johnson is one of the best heavyweights that Bellator has to offer. He just fought for the interim heavyweight title back at Bellator 261 at the end of June. Johnson fell short in his attempt to become the interim champion by losing a decision to Valentin Moldavsky.
That loss snapped a three-fight win streak for Johnson. During his previous winning streak, Johnson had finishes over Matt Mitrione and top Bellator prospect Tyrell Fortune. He also defeated Cheick Kongo in the promotion’s first trip to France last year.
🚨 BREAKING 🚨
Fedor Emelianenko returns against No.2️⃣ ranked heavyweight @TBearTim in the #BellatorMoscow main event, Saturday, Oct. 23 at the VTB Arena 🇷🇺
While it’s not been stated directly, this could be the final stand for Fedor in Bellator. The legendary heavyweight will be making the walk for the sixth time under the Bellator banner. So far in his career with the promotion, Fedor has gone 3-2.
The last time we saw Fedor was back in 2019 when he knocked out Rampage Jackson. Fedor will be 45 years old when he makes the walk in October. Given his age and the fact that Bellator booked this event to be in Russia, many are drawing the conclusion that he will be retiring after this one.
That said, if he defeats Johnson, he will likely be ranked near the top of Bellator’s heavyweight division. Regardless, I think this is the final fight for Fedor, but with The Last Emperor, you never really know.
One of the greatest fighters of all time will be returning to the Bellator cage later this year. Ariel Helwani was the first to report today that Fedor Emelianenko (39-6, 1 NC) will be returning to action in October.
According to Helwani, there is a press conference tomorrow at 11 AM ET to announce the Bellator return of Fedor. At this time, there is no opponent set for the legend’s return, but the promotion is working on a fight for Fedor now.
We have not seen Fedor since Bellator 237. That night, he took on Quinton “Rampage” Jackson in the main event. Emelianenko was able to secure a first round TKO finish just halfway through the opening frame in his last performance.
Overall, that brought Emelianenko’s record to 3-2 inside the Bellator cage. Scott Coker has been hinting that Fedor’s next fight would be his retirement fight. The promotion wanted to do a big event in Russia with a full audience.
Of course, the pandemic has thrown everything off. Emelianenko has not fought since December of 2019 and he will be 45 years old by the time he makes his next Bellator walk in October.
There are several options for Bellator in terms of opponents. A couple of options off the top of my head would be guys like Cheick Kongo and Josh Barnett. However, there are a number of heavyweights that I’m sure would be willing to fight Fedor Emelianenko.
One thing we should all be thankful for is that Emelianenko is healthy and ready to fight again. Earlier this year, Emelianenko was hospitalized due to COVID-19. Some fighters have been hit with COVID worse than others and Emelianenko had a relatively severe case.
However, the Bellator heavyweight is healthy and ready to go for his October return. We should know more tomorrow at the press-conference, but my guess is that this will be his final fight of his career.
It’s been an incredible career for Fedor Emelianenko. At one time, he was considered to be the best in the world and the greatest heavyweight of all time. His success in Pride was unmatched, but he’s never really endured the same success in the US.
While fighting for Strikeforce and Bellator, the all time great has a record of just 4-5. Now, he did have five straight wins with other promotions, but he hasn’t seen a ton of success in the US. No matter who he fights, there will be a lot of fans watching whenever Fedor makes the walk again.
Both heavyweights were released by the UFC in early March. Releasing Dos Santos made sense for the UFC seeing as he’d lost four in a row, but many were caught off guard with their decision to release Overeem.
Nevertheless, both heavyweights have been on the open market for a month and Scott Coker is interested in both of them. Bellator‘s heavyweight division is really nothing to write home about.
Their heavyweight champion is a natural light heavyweight in Ryan Bader and there’s not a lot of star power there. The only real star in their heavyweight division is a 44 year old Fedor Emelianenko (39-6, 1 NC).
Coker said that Bellator isn’t interested in long term deals, but he’s definitely interested in those two. He said, “We’re not going to sign these guys to, like, a two-year, six-fight deal or build them up. They’ve already proved themselves. They are legends of the sport already. But what I will say is we do have legends of the sport here. If we go down the road, and we think a Fedor opponent will work, Alistair and Fedor will be very interesting to me. Junior Dos Santos and Fedor will be very interesting to me.”
Fedor has faced many of the greats, but he hasn’t faced either Alistair Overeem nor Junior Dos Santos. Him and Overeem came close to fighting in Strikeforce, but the fight never materialized.
Now, Bellator can make it happen. Of course, there’s also the former UFC heavyweight champion in JDS. Both fights are interesting to Coker and I believe both would interest fans. Yes, none of them are in their primes anymore, but I think a lot of fans would still tune in.
Current Bellator heavyweight and one of the greatest of all time, Fedor Emelianenko (39-6, 1 NC), has been hit by COVID-19. According to the former Pride heavyweight champion, he’s been in the hospital dealing with COVID.
He posted on his official Instagram this morning with the news. However, the Bellator heavyweight did assure fans that he is going into recovery stating, “I am going into recovery. I’m grateful to the doctors and medical staff for their care and hard work.”
Not the most comforting thing to read that one of the best ever has been in the hospital with COVID. However, at least fight fans can breathe a little easier hearing that Fedor is heading for recovery.
Fedor hasn’t fought since December of 2019 and spent 2020 waiting on the sidelines during the pandemic. Bellator was hesitant to book Fedor for another fight because it’s known that his next fight might be his last.
Bellator’s Plans for Fedor
At this time, it’s not known how long it will take Fedor to recover from his battle with COVID-19. As mentioned, the news just came out today that he had to go to the hospital due to the symptoms.
Reports had suggested that Fedor was ready to get back into the Bellator cage and compete. At 44 years old, Fedor knows that he doesn’t have much time left in his fighting career. Once we get a better idea of his recovery timeline, we should get a better feel for Bellator’s plans.
My guess is that this really doesn’t impact them much. We know that Bellator wants to do a show with fans in Russia and that’s not going to happen anytime soon. That said, it should give Emelianenko plenty of time to recover before his return bout is booked in what might be his retirement fight.
At 44 years old, the next time we see Fedor in the Bellator cage, it might be the final time. Scott Coker has talked about doing the promotion’s first event in Russia with Fedor headlining for his final card.
Of course, that all depends on the fans situation. Coker has made it clear that Bellator doesn’t want Fedor’s final career fight to come in front of just the production crew and the promotion’s staff.
If all goes as planned and fans can return, Bellator will attempt an even in Russia with fans in the stands for Fedor. That’s one aspect of figuring out his final fight and of course the other is figuring out the opponent.
There are a couple of different options for Bellator to pick from. One option is of course Josh Barnett (35-8). Barnett was actually my first thought when thinking about who Bellator could pair him with. However, another interesting possibility is emerging.
Will Bellator book Fedor – Ortiz?
The Huntington Beach Bad Boy, Tito Ortiz (21-12-1) is wanting to return to the Bellator cage. Ortiz is wanting to come back and be the man who faces Fedor in Fedor’s final career fight.
It’s worth noting that Ortiz hasn’t fought for Bellator since 2017. However, he did go 3-1 in his four fight run inside of Bellator and even challenged for the Bellator light heavyweight championship.
Ortiz was always known as a big light heavyweight and wouldn’t have much of an issue fighting Fedor at heavyweight. In terms of name recognition, Ortiz is probably the bigger sell than any other option in front of Bellator.
Ortiz is riding a three-fight win streak at the moment. Granted, the 45 year old’s last two victories have come against Alberto Del Rio and a very old Chuck Liddell. He did defeat Chael Sonnen in his final Bellator bout.
The career of one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all-time is winding down and Bellator wants to do something special for him. Fedor Emelianenko (39-6, 1 NC) is getting ready to call it a career after fighting for over 20 years.
The Russian heavyweight superstar has been in discussions with Bellator about what they could do to close out his career. By all accounts, Fedor wanted to fight in 2020, however, the promotion wanted to wait.
Scott Coker recently talked with MMA Junkie about Fedor’s final fight with Bellator. They don’t want him to just fight in front of the production staff in the bubble type environment that was created due to the pandemic.
Bellator is wanting to do something truly special for Fedor for his final fight. According to Coker, the promotion is envisioning a monumental sendoff in front of his home country with fans in the stands.
“I really want Fedor to finish his career in front of 30,000 people in Moscow, to be honest, Bellator MMA’s first fight in Russia. Do a fight in Moscow. Fedor is the greatest fighter of all-time. He’s now coming home to retire and put his gloves up and hang it up to retire,” Coker told MMA Junkie.
Who could Bellator pair him with?
If the COVID vaccine makes its way through Russia, there is a chance that Bellator could pull an event off with fans in 2021. However, I think having 30,000 fans might be a little bit of a stretch.
If Bellator is able to pull off a Russian event with fans, they have a couple of options for Fedor’s last fight. One option would be Josh Barnett (35-8). Barnett and Fedor were supposed to fight a number of times in their careers.
However, the fight never came together. At this stage in their careers, they aren’t going to be challenging for world titles. Barnett is a bigger name that Bellator could throw at Fedor for his final fight.
Another option would be top heavyweight contender, Cheick Kongo (30-11-2, 1 NC). Kongo is coming off of his first loss since 2015. He’s 45 years old and appears to be nearing the end of his career as well.
That could be another matchup that Bellator puts together. There is also the possibility that the promotion signs a one-off fighter to fight Fedor in his final fight in Russia. They have a few options to play with.
Either way, you can bet that Bellator is going to work on putting this together in 2021. Fedor has had an incredible career and it would be fitting to give him a proper sendoff in front of fans in Russia.
We haven’t seen or heard much about Bellator‘s Last Emperor in 2020. Fedor Emelianenko has yet to step foot into the cage this year after competing back in December of 2019 at Bellator 237.
The 44 year old has been in a state of limbo much like the rest of the world. Bellator President, Scott Coker, had been asked in recent months about the return of Fedor. He never gave a clear answer on what would be next for Emelianenko.
There was talk of Emelianenko perhaps getting a rematch with Fabricio Werdum. Werdum was the man who snapped Emelianenko’s historic winning streak back in Strikeforce ten years ago.
With that, it looks like we are not going to get the rematch after all. However, Coker did shed some light on when Emelianenko would be making his return to the cage.
Fedor’s Bellator Return
Coker told reporters on Thursday, “We’d really like him to fight when there’s an audience available. But that can be challenging. So we’ll have to make a decision here pretty soon. But he’s going to fight in 2021 for sure, no matter what, because he has to fight and he’s got to keep going.”
Obviously there’s no word on who Bellator will pair up against Emelianenko, but I would expect it to be a high profile matchup. Perhaps Bellator can work things out and make the rematch happen with Werdum.
If they can’t make that happen, another good possibility could be Cheick Kongo. Kongo was close to getting a title shot, however, he just lost a decision to Timothy Johnson last month.
Either way, we know for sure that Fedor Emelianenko will be returning to Bellator at some point in 2021. I know Coker is wanting to wait for fans, but I think that’s something he might have to give up on.
At UFC 252, Stipe Miocic cemented his legacy as the greatest heavyweight in the promotion’s history. I think the last part of that sentence is truly important. The promotion’s history.
However, is Stipe the greatest heavyweight of all time? If everyone faced each other in their prime, would Stipe Miocic come out on top? I started thinking about the other man who’s widely considered one of that GOAT’s, Fedor Emelianenko.
I’m not referring to the Fedor that has fought in the US over the last ten years. I’m talking about the Fedor that put together a 30-1, 1 NC record in Japan fighting the best heavyweights of the time. Guys like Big Nog, Mirko Cro Cop, Mark Coleman, etc.
I started thinking about what would happen if the UFC‘s current heavyweight champion, Miocic, fought the greatest heavyweight in the history of Pride, Fedor, when they both were in their prime. Who would walk out with their hand raised?
UFC vs Pride
This is a fun debate, but the one thing you cannot deny is that these two men are the greatest heavyweights in Pride and UFC history. Fedor stands alone in Pride while Stipe stands alone in the UFC.
In breaking down a potential fight between the two, you have to look at the totality of their careers and skill sets. I’m going to be frank, if you didn’t witness Fedor in his prime, I truly feel sorry for you. You need to go watch old fights to educate yourself on just how good he was.
Fedor was incredibly innovative for his time. Dynamic on the feet, incredibly explosive, and arguably had the quickest hips on the ground out of any heavyweight I’ve ever seen. On top of that, he could take a punch and just keep coming.
The one big down side for Fedor was his size. If he would have been on a UFC PI nutritional plan, he could have easily been a light heavyweight or even a middleweight. At the same time, that’s what makes his accomplishments even more impressive.
Stipe Miocic has blown me away in his career. The man never struck me as the fastest guy or the most powerful guy, but he just knew how to get it done. Has a very good chin, but was finished twice including once by Stefan Struve.
However, Miocic just has this toughness to him. The guy has incredibly clean boxing technique with solid grappling. The two time UFC heavyweight champion has successfully defended the title four times which is a UFC record.
Miocic holds wins over all the top UFC heavyweights of this era minus Cain Velasquez. His hit list includes Daniel Cormier (Twice), Francis Ngannou, Junior Dos Santos, Alistair Overeem, and Fabricio Werdum.
As the sport has evolved, the competition has arguably gotten much steeper in the heavyweight division, and Stipe has stood alone. A few losses, but when it counts, he’s at his best.
So who wins?
This is such a tough call for me. If you told me that Pride’s Fedor fought the UFC‘s Stipe ten times, I might say that it would be 5-5. On the feet, technique wise, Stipe has the advantage. However, Fedor was drastically faster with his hand speed.
Factoring all grappling aspects into the game from wrestling to jiu jitsu, I would give the slight advantage to Fedor. Although, Stipe’s size advantage could play a big role in the grappling exchanges particularly against the fence.
In the end, if I had a gun to my head, I would lean towards Fedor Emelianenko in his prime. That is not to disrespect the accomplishments that Stipe Miocic has or to discredit the UFC champ, but I truly believe there was something special about a prime Fedor.
If one of the two men were to secure a finish, I believe that Fedor would be able to catch Stipe. Stipe has shown that he doesn’t have the cleanest defense in the world, and I think that Fedor’s speed and power would give him issues.
So if you ask me, I’m going with Fedor. It’s a fun debate, but I still believe the Pride Fedor is the greatest heavyweight I’ve ever seen.