The legendary Fedor
Emelianenko is getting a chance to go out on top.
On Friday, CBS
Sports broke the news that Emelianenko (40-6, 1 NC) would be
taking his final fight on Feb. 4. Atop
Bellator 290, he will square off against former foe Ryan Bader
(30-7, 1 NC) for the latter’s heavyweight title. The fight card
will be held at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., and it will air on
the CBS network. This event will be the first MMA fight card on CBS
Nashville in 2010, which concluded with a massive post-fight
brawl and the prompted the cancelation of Strikeforce‘s television contract.
Former two-division champ Bader has not tasted defeat as a
heavyweight, as he moved up to the division in 2018 and rattled off
three wins in under a year over Muhammad Lawal, Matt
Mitrione and the aforementioned Emelianenko to claim the strap.
While his first defense against Cheick Kongo
ended by no contest due to an eye poke, a
contentious title unification match against Valentin
Moldavsky and a subsequent rematch of Kongo both went his way
by five-round decision. As a 205er, however, he has lost two of his
last three, with knockout losses coming to Vadim
Nemkov for his own belt and Corey
Anderson in the light heavyweight tourney semifinal.
Since Bader knocked him out in early 2019, Emelianenko has not
lost. He bounced back 11 months after the setback to Bader by
Jackson in the first round in Japan. He returned nearly two
years later to square off against Tim Johnson
in the main event of Bellator’s Russia debut, and he smashed
Johnson in under two minutes. “The Last Emperor” has not won a
championship bout in a major organization – this does not count his
World Alliance of Mixed Martial Arts title, which sold on Ebay to an
anonymous bidder for $1,595 in 2011 – since 2006, when he
tapped Mark Hunt with
a kimura for the Pride Fighting Championships strap. Since his
final Pride appearance in 2006, he has won 14 times, and 12 of
those have come inside the distance. According to a Bellator
official, Emelianenko has been asking for this rematch ever since
the loss to Bader.
The organization also made a second announcement for this event’s
billing: the light heavyweight belt will be on the line as well
that night. The winner of Nemkov-Anderson 2, who will throw down at
Bellator 288 on Nov. 18 in Chicago, will make his next defense
in the co-main event of Bellator 290. That victor’s foe will be
Romero, who has fought three times under the Bellator banner
since joining the league in 2021. While Romero did not get his hand
raised in his debut against Phil Davis,
subsequent pairings with Alex
Polizzi and Melvin
Manhoef saw “Soldier of God” put them both away in the third
Fedor Emelianenko to Take Retirement Title Bout Against Ryan Bader in February
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