In 2017, we saw two of the preeminent names in the greatest of all-time conversation, Demetrious Johnson and Georges St-Pierre, reassert their claims to GOAT status with impressive victories. But while those two soared to impressive new heights, one of the other men in the GOAT discussion, former Pride heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko, had a substantially less successful year.
Emelianenko signed with Bellator MMA, jumping into action against former UFC fighter Matt Mitrione in Bellator’s inaugural event in New York City. He was knocked out in 74 seconds. Coming on the heels of an embarrassing and controversial win over Fabio Maldonado in 2016, the loss had many people questioning if Emelianenko would continue fighting. The answer was yes, as Emelianenko was announced as a competitor in Bellator’s 2018 Heavyweight Grand Prix. And while many fans question whether Emelianenko should still be fighting, Bellator President Scott Coker thinks his tournament is the perfect setting for “The Last Emperor.”
Speaking with Kevin Iole recently, Coker said that he put Emelianenko in the tournament despite coming off of a knockout loss because of his respect for the career of the MMA legend. Coker also believes that the Bellator Heavyweight Grand Prix is “perfect” for Emelianenko because of the competition he’ll be facing.
“When you talk about heavyweights, like with Mitrione, they both punch each other in the face, knock each other down, Mitrione got up a little faster . . . and then he finished Fedor,” said Coker. “But it could easily went the other way. Yes, guys that are fighting into their thirties should not be fighting 21 year old kids like he was doing in the past but this is the perfect tournament for him.
“He wanted to come in. He said to me – through Jerry, the translator – I know that this is the fourth quarter for me and I want to compete, and I would love to be Bellator’s heavyweight world champion. When Fedor asks you that, what are you gonna do? Are you gonna say no? You have to say yes so we did and we gave him that respect and he’s gonna have an equal shot just like everybody else.”
Emelianenko is set to face former UFC champion Frank Mir in April in the opening round of the tournament. Mir is coming off of two losses in a row in the UFC and was granted his released by the organization after being suspended by USADA for a failed drug test stemming from his fight with Mark Hunt in 2016. Mir’s current status as an aging MMA legend coming off a pair of poor performances, is partly why Coker thinks this tournament presents a good opportunity for Emelianenko to get back into action against an appropriate level of competition.
“If you look at him and Frank Mir, Frank Mir’s coming off some losses, Fedor’s coming off some losses. This is kind of an equal fight in my mind and it’s gonna be great.”
Emelianenko was the long-time Pride heavyweight champion and widely considered to be one of the best fighters to ever put on the gloves, amassing a 31-1-1 record to start his career with his lone loss being a heavily disputed cut stoppage. His later years saw him fall on harder times, losing three in a row while competing for Coker’s now-defunct Strikeforce. He retired from MMA in 2012 but returned to the sport three years later and has been competing steadily since then. Coker says that could be coming to an end though as he believes Emelianenko may retire after the Grand Prix, depending on how the tournament shakes out for him.
“I believe that he hasn’t decided yet but I wouldn’t be surprised if he fought the tournament out and won the tournament, that he would retire the tournament champion and the heavyweight champion,” said Coker. “What a way to have a great send off.
“Or if he loses the first fight to Frank Mir and gets stopped, he might call it a day too.”
Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor trade shots over Twitter.
Demetrious Johnson underwent successful shoulder surgery.
Doo Ho Choi discusses his upcoming military service and loss to Cub Swanson.
Amanda Ribas suspended by USADA for two years before ever making UFC debut.
Chael Sonnen is looking forward to defending Bellator heavyweight title with GRand Prix win.
Nick Diaz maybe coming back?
Another entry in this fun series.
Feels like a done deal at this point.
KenFlo coming in hot with a Nate Diaz impression.
Free fight from LFA.
Heavy Hands. Previewing UFC St. Louis and the return of the Korean Superboy.
Bushido Talk. Discussing Big John’s move to Bellator.
SOCIAL MEDIA BOUILLABAISSE
I already fucked you up in 2017 now they about to fuck you up in 2018. You’re about to start your new year off with a bang ⛏ ⚰️ pic.twitter.com/upaRfLbgvJ
— Floyd Mayweather (@FloydMayweather) January 10, 2018
I am the cartel.
— Conor McGregor (@TheNotoriousMMA) January 10, 2018
Violate these nuts
Can only be one of two things.
Big news coming. The Eagles continues to hunt. Скоро ждите больших новостей. Охота продолжается. #гдевытеперь #whereareyouNow
Surgery was success thanks for all the well wishes !!
DC talking a big game.
It’s crazy that this kid thinks he can knock me out with one punch. What happens when it doesn’t happen, you will all see next Saturday. I’ll stand with this kid and still beat him. There are levels to this game and this Guy ain’t on the level. @volkan_oezdemir you have done well but now you’re in over your head. Sharpening my tools with @akajav. I am who I am because of who I am, hard work and commitment is something I’ve always had in spades. I can’t wait to show you what we have been cooking up. #weareaka #downgoesvolkan #levels #ufc220 @iamthebay
Loser leaves town fight?
— Will Brooks (@ILLxWillBrooks) January 10, 2018
The UFC really isn’t even trying with posters anymore. Same old stuff.
— Luke Rockhold (@LukeRockhold) January 11, 2018
This man is the hero we need.
Hello Mr Rockhold, it me Devin here. Please be advised Robert Whittaker is now referred to as #BobbyKnuckles if you could ensure that this mistake is not repeated in the future it will help your social media presence. Cheers and good luck
— Devin Scott (@dev0ved) January 11, 2018
Hunto looking good.
Morning @heartbreakconditioning @colehbc @selby610 @bambamtuivasa @junior.tafa @svnoofficial @theexperienceofkaiz @juggernautmarkhunt @soathehulk that 80s shit boiii
— LUSHSUX (@lushsux) January 10, 2018
Sara McMann (11-4) vs. Marion Reneau (8-3-1); UFC Orlando, Feb. 24.
Brian Caraway (21-7) vs. Cody Stamann (16-1); UFC 222, March 3.
TODAY IN MMA HISTORY
2002: Jens Pulver pulled of the biggest win of his career, upsetting B.J. Penn to defend his UFC lightweight title at UFC 35. Also on the card, Murilo Bustamante stopped Dave Menne to win the UFC middleweight title.
2010: Gray Maynard won a split decision over Nate Diaz in their rematch at UFC Fight Night 20.
Hey, maybe Coker’s right. Sure, the guy who just bolted him is in the tournament also, and sure, basically everyone in the GP is better than anyone has fought in years, and sure, Fedor hasn’t won a fight on U.S. soil in over a decade, but let’s not forget that Fedor does sport a 7-1-1 record against former UFC champs. Mir is in trouble.
I can’t wait for when Fedor stops this Bellator nonsense and fights Wanderlei in Rizin. It’s the only fight that has made sense for ages.
That’s all for today folks. Take it easy and see y’all tomorrow.
If you find something you’d like to see in the Morning Report, hit me up on Twitter @JedKMeshew and let me know about it. Also follow MMAFighting on Instagram, add us on Snapchat at MMA-Fighting, and like us on Facebook.